MELBOURNE, Australia ( Associated Press) – Novak Djokovic fixed his left shoe, leaning against a sign at the side of the court, to stretch the muscles that were ailing him. He won because he flexed a muscle for a moment, jumping off with his right foot to take the weight off the second. He requested to be bandaged again during the second set with the help of a physiotherapist, which the Serbian star turned down.
And as if he needed more distractions, Djokovic became so incensed by a man who disturbed the stands that he asked chair umpire Fergus Murphy to remove Rod Laver from the field. They said, ‘He is completely drunk… He is instigating. The only thing he wants is to drive me crazy.”
As Djokovic later summed it up: “A lot happened.”
Such was what happened Thursday night at the Australian Open. Djokovic kept his composure and was not eliminated in the second round, as was the case with top seed Rafael Nadal and number two Casper Ruud.
Looking for a tenth champion’s trophy at Melbourne Park, to extend his record, and 22nd Grand Slam title overall, to emulate Nadal’s tally, Djokovic 6-1, 6-7(5), 6- 2, 6-0 to top Enzo Couacaud, a Frenchman who started the week as No. 161 in the rankings.
It was Djokovic’s 23rd consecutive win at the Australian Open, snapping a streak he had a year earlier when he was unable to play in the tournament due to not having been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m worried. I’m not going to say I’m not,” Djokovic said of the foot soreness, insisting he didn’t plan to train in the days between his matches. Huh.
He said, ‘There is nothing much to talk about. “I have two choices. Leave or keep going. I’ll keep going.”
A group of spectators left the field after Djokovic claimed to the chair umpire, pointing out that one of them was disrespecting them.
Djokovic said, “I have a problem when they cross the line many times and start saying abusive things.” “I have a limit.”