Alcaraz coach reignites Djokovic injury debate with ‘impossible’ claim

Carlos Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero has discussed the injury Novak Djokovic carried during the Australian Open. The world No 1 won his 22nd Grand Slam title with a hamstring injury, causing some current and former pros to question the validity of the issue during the tournament, and Ferrero has now admitted that he finds it almost “impossible” to believe.

Djokovic won a record 10th title at the Australian Open last month, carrying a hamstring injury that he picked up at the Adelaide International. The Serb needed multiple medical time outs in his early rounds before stepping it up in the second week, and Aussie Open tournament director Craig Tiley later claimed that the world No 1 was carrying a three-centimetre hamstring tear.

While the 35-year-old has not confirmed this, he previously blasted those who were doubting his injury during the tournament as fourth-round opponent Alex de Minaur had claimed that Djokovic “looked good” to him while former pro Todd Woodbridge questioned whether the eventual-champion was “playing it up”. And former world No 1 Ferrero has become the latest pro to weigh into the debate, also sharing some doubts.

“I am not going to call Djokovic a liar, but I will only say that I find it difficult,” the current coach of Carlos Alcaraz told RNE. The 2003 French Open champion explained that it would be difficult to play as Djokovic did if it was true that he had torn the hamstring muscle as he continued: “The breaks and tears, his own word says it: the muscle is broken.

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“I see it as difficult, if it were so, Djokovic would move as he did. Obviously if he has the ability to withstand brutal pain, which may be, good for him and he deserved to win.” But judging by his own experiences, Ferrero thought it was almost impossible to produce performances like Djokovic did through such a severe injury.

“Personally, after having played my entire career and having injuries, I see it as very, very difficult, if not impossible,” he added. “Obviously when he says it, he will explain it well, the tournament director has said it and you have to trust what they say.”

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Djokovic himself addressed the injury in a press conference held at his Novak Tennis Centre on Wednesday as he gave an update on his progress and committed to playing next week’s ATP 500 in Dubai. “As for the injury I sustained at the Australian Open, it’s healed, but I’m not 100 percent yet,” the world No 1 told reporters.

“Things are looking very good. As a team, we made the decision to go to Dubai.” Djokovic has not played since winning a record-equalling 22nd Major title in Australia. Meanwhile, Ferrero’s charge Alcaraz is playing just the second tournament of his comeback from back-to-back injuries after winning his first event of the season in Argentina last week.

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