Novak Djokovic continues to fend off doubts about his actual state of fitness as he prepares for his first match since winning the Australian Open a month ago.
The Serb told the UEA’s National on the eve of the ATP 500 event in Dubai that he cannot be distracted by nagging suspicions that a reported 3-cm hamstring muscle tear might not be quite as real as he suggests.
The 35-year-old beat a tearful Stefanos Tsitsipas for the Melbourne title, with suggestions that his injury was blown up by his team for dramatic effect.
Djokovic is having none of it:
“I just had enough. I really don’t have time or energy or willingness to deal with someone else’s judgment or proving something to someone.”
The 22-time Grand Slam winner added: “I’ve already accepted the fact that there’s always going to be a group of people that is not going to like you, that is not going to like what you say, how you go about your tennis or anything in your private life.
“There’s always going to be judgement. But you grow stronger from that.”
The anti-vaxx player who is waiting to hear if he will be granted some kind unprecedented exemption to enter the US unjabbed in order to play the March pair of Masters 1000 tournaments, said he takes constant criticism as a tonic.
“I try to grow stronger from that, use that as the fuel. Not to prove them, but to fuel my own desire to (become) better and stronger.”
The five-time titleholder at the Aviation Club venue remains the main drawcard after Rafael Nadal withdrew with the injury which he has carried since losing in the Australian Open second round.