• Novak Djokovic faces Andrey Rublev this Wednesday morning in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

  • Limping during the first rounds due to a thigh injury, the Serb apparently found all his means during a one-sided knockout round against Alex De Minaur.

  • Enough to fuel the fantasy of "Djoko the great bluffer", two years after a serious abdominal injury which had not prevented him from winning his 9th title in Melbourne.

The people of tennis seem divided into two irreconcilable camps.

On the one hand, those who see Novak Djokovic as a hero, an ultimate fighter capable of overcoming suffering that would put an average human being on the ground for several weeks to play – and of course win – a Grand Slam tournament match.

And then there are those on the other who think that a brilliant post-career awaits the Serb in the smoky halls of the World Series of Poker – or in a revival of Patrick Sébastien's "Grand Bluff", but it's a little less glamorous.

“How did you find it?


Djoko and his injuries are quite a story on the circuit.

And with his left thigh strapped during this Australian Open, the Serb is writing a glorious new chapter.

Touched before the start of the tournament during training with Daniil Medvedev, he was apparently on the verge of abandonment at the start of the fortnight.

In any case, this is what we had deduced from his speeches, "worried" that he was after his 2nd round against Enzo Couacaud and just happy to have "survived" the next one against Grigor Dimitrov.

But that was before he crushed Alex De Minaur (6-2, 6-1, 6-2) in the round of 16 on Sunday.

The way he swept the solid Australian woke up the haters who believe that the world number 5, as usual, made a fuss of it.

A bit like the guy we hated at school because he announced before a test that he hadn't revised anything and who whistled away with a 19/20.

After this quick qualification, Djokovic explained that his body had responded just well to the ton of care given since arriving in Melbourne:

 We do a lot of things.

And all these treatments, these machines that we use, it's really exhausting.

But it was, and still is, necessary for me to be able to play.

And I'm very happy that my body responded so well.

Today I felt no pain.

It means we are going in the right direction.

But I don't want to declare victory too soon because I don't know how the body will react tomorrow and for the next match.


Andrey Rublev, his next opponent in the quarter-finals, surely has his own idea on the matter.

The Russian knows that he shouldn't count a second on a Djoko weakened by any ailment.

Some have tried, they have had problems.

De Minaur, precisely, had perhaps been taken in by all the debates surrounding the state of health of the nine-time winner of the tournament before facing him.

“I don't know, how did you find it?

“Questioned the Australian after the meeting when the journalists asked him if Djoko looked hurt.

Before adding, looking annoyed: “Everyone knows what happened in the last two weeks.

That's the only thing we talked about here.

So either I'm not good enough tennis player to expose his weakness or… Anyway, he was very good, too good for me in all areas.

"Be what, Alex?"

The imaginary documentary

All these questions around the Serb necessarily recall the 2021 edition, when he had finished his 3rd round against Taylor Fritz almost flat on his stomach because of a tear in his abdominals which occurred during the match.

Again, we were left to wonder who would administer extreme unction, before the fellow resurrected and went to seek his 9th title in Melbourne by dismissing in turn Raonic, Zverev, Karatsev and Medvedev.

“Recovery represents 100% of my days since my injury, he explained afterwards.

You will be able to discover all this in a documentary which should be ready at the end of the year.

A way of closing the mouths of skeptics.

But since no one ever heard from this film again, it ultimately fueled the fantasies more than anything else.

Before this story, Novak Djokovic had been in the crosshairs of opponents several times for suspicious behavior during matches or statements of dubious sincerity.

We remember, for example, Andy Murray's frustration after the 2015 final (lost 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0), marked by the Serb's strange loss of balance in the 3rd set, before it suddenly restarts.

“I got distracted when he almost fell to the ground after his strikes.

He seemed to have cramps, and then at the end of the round, he started sliding and running in all directions, the Scot had noted.

I'm not saying he did it deliberately.

I hope not.

If he actually had cramps and managed to recover to play like that, hats off.


More distant, and tastier, this lunar press conference by Andy Roddick in 2008, before a quarter-final between the two men at the US Open.

The young Djoko, who had just won his first Grand Slam title, already had his little reputation.

After having complained during the previous rounds of pain in his left ankle, then in the right, then of fatigue, the Serb had been seasoned for free by a Roddick who was more inspired than the next day on the court: "He hurts both ankles then?

And at the hip?

And on the back?

And cramps.

And bird flu.



If I think he's bluffing?

No, if he has all that, he has all that.

But that's a lot.

Either he's calling the doctor for nothing, or he's the bravest guy ever.

It's up to you guys to decide.


An inexpensive weapon of destabilization

The post-match had been stormy, Djokovic taking a little arrogant tone to talk about his victim of the day, which had led to him being grabbed by the collar in the locker room, as the American had said after his retirement. .

Many, in fact, have one day felt slightly cheated by Djokovic, which we can at least recognize a certain talent for sending contradictory signals to his opponents.

Nothing really bad in there, after all, it can be used as a weapon of destabilization at little cost.

It's just a little annoying, like his now famous "bathroom breaks" when things aren't going too well on the court.

Launched on the subject from bluff in his statements on Sunday, the person concerned felt that it was always the same problem with him.

“Only my injuries are called into question.

When other players are injured, they are the victims, but when it's me, I pretend.

It's very interesting,” he remarked.

Before slipping to the media of his country: “I let these people doubt.

Do the same.



Tennis: “We have two years of love to show him”… Novak Djokovic, still king of hearts in Australia


Wimbledon: “I spoke to myself in the mirror”… How Djokovic (again) overturned a match while going through the toilet

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