New Age | Djokovic ‘pain-free’ for Wimbledon

New Age | Djokovic ‘pain-free’ for Wimbledon

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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic called himself ‘pain-free’ after beating Daniil Medvedev in an exhibition match ahead of Wimbledon on Friday.

Former world number one Djokovic, the seven-time Wimbledon champion, required surgery earlier this month after suffering a serious knee injury at Roland Garros.

But on Friday, the 37-year-old took his place in the draw for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, with second-seeded Djokovic, and faced 123rd-ranked Czech Vit Kopriv at the grass-court Grand Slam.

Djokovic’s movement was not entirely smooth in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Medvedev in an exhibition event at London’s Hurlingham Club, with the Serbian’s right knee strapped. But he hit the ball sharply and served well.

“I can tell you that I really enjoyed myself today,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I can tell you that pain-free tennis is the best tennis. I was pain-free and I’m really happy. It was obviously a great test against one of the best players in the world.

“I played a few practice sets, but I really wanted to test myself. The test was very successful, so I’m very happy of course. It’s been three intense weeks after the operation, in which I spent many hours recovering.”

Djokovic, whose total of 24 Grand Slam singles titles is the most won by any man in tennis history, added: “I always wanted to give myself a chance to be in London. I think my surgeon is here. He’s definitely the MVP (most valuable player) of the last three weeks.

“I’m trying to take it day by day and see how far I can get.”

Djokovic had to retire from his quarter-final at Roland Garros against Casper Ruud because he tore the medial meniscus in his right knee.

Since then, he has tried to learn from other tennis players and athletes who have suffered similar injuries, such as American Taylor Fritz, who found himself in a similar situation three years ago and recovered in time for Wimbledon.

“I asked him, I asked a lot of other athletes – (Stan) Wawrinka, (skier) Lindsey Vonn, (footballer) Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and they were all kind enough to share some of their experiences and give me contacts of people who could help me,” Djokovic said.