Novak Djokovic suffered a bad fever the night before his Australian Open loss to eventual champion Jannik Sinner, according to Serbian reports.
It was no secret that Djokovic had been battling illness before and throughout the tournament, the 36-year-old admitting on multiple occasions throughout his campaign that he had been under the weather.
But it was believed he had been improving throughout the tournament, and many thought he would rise to his 11th title at Melbourne Park before he was stopped in his tracks in a shock semi-final loss to Sinner.
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Now, reports out of Serbia suggest the 24-time grand slam champion suffered a relapse of his illness the night before his final match.
“He got a fever the night before the semi-final,” Luka Nikolic said.
“Something similar to what (Alexander) Zverev had.
“He was sick for three weeks, and then he had a relapse.
“That’s why he played so badly in the first two sets, you could see he was so weak and couldn’t do it. He couldn’t play well in those conditions.
“He didn’t want to go to the doctor so the journalists wouldn’t bother him and make a fuss.”
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Novak Djokovic leaves the court after his first loss at the Australian Open in 2195 days. Credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images
Normally bullet-proof on Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic was made to earn his spot in the last four, including right from the start of the tournament, when he played the longest first-round match of his career in grand slams.
He beat Croatian qualifier Dino Prižmić in a tick over four hours but dropped a rare set and looked like conceding another one before eventually progressing through to the second round in four enthralling sets.
Speaking after the game, he admitted he wasn’t at his best, physically.
“Yeah, I am a bit under the weather last, yeah, four, five days. You can probably judge by my voice,” Djokovic said at the time.
“Look, it is what it is — you just have to try to deal with it and get over it and accept the circumstances and try to make the most of it.
“I will discuss with my team tomorrow, see if I maybe skip practice tomorrow, tennis practice. Maybe do some light work, gym, jog, some specific exercises just to keep my body in shape.
“I mean, last year I haven’t practised in between any match really. It was different circumstances because I was injured. I think now with two days (of rest), it’s quite useful after playing four-hour opening round.
“Let’s see how I wake up tomorrow and then we’ll play it by ear.”