I’ve been overly critical of Novak Djokovic’s toughness in the past, so it’s only fair to give recognition when he goes the other way and shows his guts. Sunday in Boise he did just that.
As many of you have seen, Djokovic grimly rolled his right ankle early in his Davis Cup match against Sam Querrey yesterday in Boise. Watching live at first I didn’t notice the injury because Novak kept playing, but on replay it sure didn’t look good for the Serb and his team who needed Novak’s clinching point, otherwise the tie would rest in the super-shaky hands of Viktor Troicki.
Djokovic got the ankle taped up and resumed playing, but he never really looked comfortable thereafter, and there were moments early on when I felt like he was going to stop – had he lost that first set who knows and he’s retired from Davis Cup matches before. But he didn’t.
By the end of the match, with Querrey now battling a pectoral injury, a drug-upped Djokovic ran away with the match. Here it was interesting to contrast: Querrey done in by a chest muscle injury that slowed his serve while Djokovic dealt with a bad ankle that had to hurt with every step, yet Novak dominated?
That’s heart. That’s a will to win. Querrey doesn’t have it. Djokovic does.
Novak admitted afterward that had it not been Davis Cup he might have withdrawn. And Djokovic doesn’t have to play Davis Cup, he’s won it before. His goal for this year is crystal clear: it’s the French Open. But by carrying on with the match he put those tournament hopes in peril. Credit to him, though, he risked it for his team and for his country when he could have easily and understandably opted out.
Obviously we don’t know the full extent of the injury. The fact he was able to play 3.5 sets of tennis on a gimpy ankle was an encouraging sign. Regardless of the MRI outcome he showed a lot yesterday. Honestly, I’m not so sure how many other top players would have continued in that situation. But with so much on the line, he did.
It won’t be his career defining moment and in 10 years we’ll probably all forget it even happened, but we shouldn’t. Well done, Novak. You got some guts there.
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