Top-ranked tennis ace Novak Djokovic on Wednesday said he was close to 100 percent after battling through a hamstring injury during his winning sweep at the Australian Open last month.
Djokovic appeared light on his feet as he hit balls and moved around the court with apparent ease at his tennis centre in the Serbian capital Belgrade.
The 35-year-old pulled his hamstring before the Australian Open, having won a warm-up event in Adelaide, and was badly hampered at times at Melbourne Park, particularly in the early rounds.
“It has healed, and I am close to being 100 percent ready. I’m still not there, but things are looking good and encouraging, so we made a decision as a team for me to go to Dubai,” he told reporters, referring to the upcoming ATP tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
Amid a flurry of questions following a practise session, Djokovic brushed off suggestions that his hamstring issue had been a stunt — following accusations in Melbourne that he exaggerated the extent of the injury.
“I really do not have time, energy or will to deal with every story that appears on the internet, or what someone says about something. I know what is right and what is true,” he added.
The 35-year-old Serbian remains at the top of the latest ATP rankings released on Monday bringing him level with the amount of weeks that Steffi Graf spent as women’s world number one — an all-time record.
Djokovic returned to number one spot for a seventh time after his victory in the Australian Open at the end of January, which was a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam singles title.
The tennis star however is still set to miss the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami events in the spring, after US authorities extended until April their requirement for international visitors to be vaccinated.
Djokovic missed last year’s US Open for the same reason.
“The process is ongoing and that is all I know,” said Djokovic about his ability to play in upcoming US tournaments due to his vaccine status.
“These are things that are completely beyond my control. Of course, I would like to play.”
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