Did Novak Djokovic fake injury in the Australian Open Final?
Novak Djokovic has denied faking injury during the intense Australian Open final on Sunday against Andy Murray and has said that he would be happy to sit down to discuss the flash points of a controversial match with his opponent. The issue was the way Djokovic appeared to be playing rope-a-dope by exaggerating his physical exhaustion early in the third set. “I got a bit distracted when he, like, fell on the ground after a couple of shots,” Murray said in the post-match interview. “If it was cramp, that’s a tough thing to recover from and play as well as he did at the end.” Having said this though, even if Djokovic was playing dead, and no one will ever be able to prove that he was, there is nothing in tennis’s rules about body language. And Murray admitted: “I’ve been through situations like that before where I haven’t let it affect me. That was what was disappointing.”
When Djokovic was asked if he expected there to be any bad blood left over from this curious situation, he replied: “From my perspective, no. How he feels about it, it’s obviously still very fresh to talk about that. He’s definitely disappointed about losing that match. It’s normal that some time has to pass. We’ll see. If there is a chance, if he’s willing to talk, I’ll talk, no problem. I have nothing to hide. I’m not the sort of guy who is pretending, who is trying to do something behind anyone’s back or is saying bad things about anybody, especially about him, a person I have known for a long time. I have respect for him.”
The past fortnight could be seen as a case of two steps forward, one step back for Murray. The excellent impression he had built up with his assertive, tennis in Melbourne was undermined by the sense of regression in the fianl, as he suffered his most obvious psychological meltdown since before Ivan Lendl arrived on the scene as his coach in 2012. In his defence, though, it should be said that this was a ferociously challenging situation. Beating Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena is the second-hardest feat in the sport, after facing Rafael Nadal on the clay of Paris. So when the world No1 started to look as if he was cramping, Murray probably wanted to believe it so much that he forgot to be wary. As a top tennis tipster would say: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Murray’s record in grand slam finals now stands at two wins from eight attempts. It looks an ugly ratio but you have to remember who his opponents were as he has faced Djokovic and Federer four times each, and beaten each once. “If he won a couple more matches maybe he would have five grand slams now and it would be a different story,” Djokovic said on Monday. “On the other hand I maybe could have won a few more. But this is the generation we are in, there are four players that are incredibly good and very few points decide the winner. I am sure Andy is disappointed not to win a few more grand slams but he also is a better player as a consequence to being a rival of the other three guys.”
As for the status of his former friendship with Murray, which has inevitably cooled while the two have spent so much time plotting how to beat each other, Djokovic suggested that the arrival of a mini‑Murray might help to bring them back together again. Let’s see if that will be the case, in the meantime a top tennis prediction would suggest another Grand Slam Final between these two before the year is up, with maybe the Scot as the winner next time!