Very reduced this Thursday by a thigh injury which has handicapped him for ten days, Novak Djokovic managed to beat the Frenchman Enzo Couacaud (191st in the world) in four sets (6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-0) in the second round of the Australian Open, in Melbourne.
It was therefore by gritting his teeth very hard to contain the pain emanating from his left thigh that the Serb qualified. He is looking to equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles in Australia. His behavior on the court, with a medical timeout, multiple grimaces, aborted races, obvious attempts to shorten the points, is worrying before facing the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (28th) in the next round.
“I’m worried and I have reason to be,” he himself admitted later, without wanting to go into details about the nature of the injury. Two years ago, the Serbian champion tore his stomach in the third round against American Taylor Fritz. He held on until the end and won the tournament for the ninth time. “This time it’s different and I don’t know what will happen,” also said “Nole”.
In fact, and despite a flattering score in the last two sets, he let his nervousness show when he suddenly asked the referee for the expulsion of a spectator who was too noisy for his taste. “There is a guy, drunk as a pig, who provokes me from the first point. What are you going to do ? Why don’t you ask security to let him out? Djokovic annoyedly asked the referee, at 2-0 in the fourth set. The four troublemakers were effectively sent off during the next change of sides.
A premature elimination would be a blow to the favorites of the event, who lost his number 2 seed, the Norwegian Casper Ruud, on Thursday the day after the elimination of Rafael Nadal. The 3rd in the world, finalist of the last US Open, saved four match points before finally losing to the American Jenson Brooksby (39th), also in four sets (6-3, 7-5, 6-7 ( 4/7), 6-2). Now without Nadal and also in the absence of Carlos Alcaraz, a Grand Slam tournament is deprived of the three best in the world from the third round for the first time since 2002 (Hewitt, Kuerten, Agassi).