Todd Woodbridge has cast doubt over the seriousness of Novak Djokovic’s hamstring injury ahead of his blockbuster Monday night clash with Alex de Minaur.
Djokovic breezed through the first week of the Australian Open, dropping just one set in his opening three matches, despite showing occasional signs that he was struggling physically and getting regular treatment to help him play through his hamstring issue.
Speaking on Wide World of Sports’ The Morning Serve Woodbridge said “it’s pretty obvious he has a bit of a niggle” but was cynical about the injury’s severity, joking that “at times it looks like it’s about to snap off”.
LIVE UPDATES: Australian Open 2023 day eight highlights
READ MORE: Tim Tzsyu world title opponent confirmed
READ MORE: Tsitsipas’ touching Laver nod after epic win
Woodbridge said Djokovic had rightfully gained a reputation for theatrically “playing up” his injuries adding that the Serbian megastar did that as part of a mental game he had perfected.
“It looks a bit dodgy between points but once he starts running there is absolutely no problem with how he is moving,” Woodbridge said.
“I’m not saying it’s gamesmanship, it’s pretty obvious he has a bit of a niggle, but at times it looks like it’s about to snap off, so he’s playing it up nicely here and there, but you know, that’s Novak.
“Novak uses that type of energy to focus, to fire up and we’ve seen him use the crowd in the same way sometimes. And that’s just the way he does it and we’ve been watching it for a long time now.”
Watch the Australian Open live and free on the Nine Network: Channel 9, 9Gem and 9NOW.
Woodbridge said that, however minor the injury might be, it would still give Alex de Minaur a potential edge if he can execute the perfect game plan against the 21-time grand slam winner.
Conceding that “there weren’t many” weaknesses in Djokovic’s game, Woodbridge said he’d picked up some minor flaws during the Australian Open that de Minaur could attempt to exploit.
Todd Woodbridge previews de Minaur v Djokovic: The Morning Serve Day 8
“That hamstring and the concentration of Novak, that’s the one thing that hasn’t been absolutely perfect,” Woodbridge said.
“He has dropped a set, he has been getting agitated, and so, how do you get him agitated? Well that will be up to Alex to work it out.”
The Australian world No.24, will have to overcome an intimidating statistic if he is to knock over one of the greatest players to ever pick up a racquet.
Lleyton Hewitt was the last local to knock over one of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray at the Australian Open and that was way back in 2005, with the two-time grand slam champion getting the better of a then 18-year-old Nadal during his run to the final, which he lost to Marat Safin.
Since then Australian players have faced one of the ‘big four’ at the Australian Open 22 times without success.
What Alex De Minaur needs to do to beat Novak Djokovic
It’s a daunting prospect for de Minaur but one Woodbridge believes the 23-year-old is ready for.
“It’s a great opportunity for Alex to go out and make a huge name for himself in front of his home audience,” Woodbridge said.
“It’s going to be really hard though … [Djokovic is] not playing as well as we’ve seen him play but he’s still playing very well. For Alex, he’s just got to take a chance, you’ve got to go for it, you’ve got to put everything on the line. There’s nothing to lose.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!