Hitting back at his detractors and slamming the doubters, Novak Djokovic says his ninth Australian Open triumph was among the most challenging of his grand slam career.
Djokovic thumped Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in Sunday night’s final before taking aim at his critics.
The Serb was savaged pre-tournament for detailing a list of so-called quarantine demands for the 72 players holed up in hard lockdown, then accused of exaggerating an abdominal injury during his five-set third-round win over Taylor Fritz.
“Emotionally (this) was one of hardest tournaments I had, to be honest, with quarantine and a lot of things happening in the media,” the world No.1 told Nine.
“The letter that I wrote, ideas and recommendations that I got from players was misinterpreted as my request and list of demands.
“Then the next thing you know within a couple of days I’m persona non grata in this country.
“I got injured in the third round. It was a rollercoaster ride if I can define it in one word. I think it makes it even sweeter for me.”
Djokovic maintained he tore a stomach muscle against Fritz, and that the injury still hadn’t fully healed.
“I wanted to keep things quiet and clear for me in terms of talking about the injury or any other stuff. Just keeping it to tennis,” the Serb said.
“Once the tournament is done, I mean, (I can say) it’s a muscle tear. It was a muscle tear at that point.
“I don’t think I’ve experienced that kind of a snap that I have in the third round. I went to MRI. MRI has shown a tear.
“People questioned that.”
The 33-year-old said he spent countless hours in between matches having treatment so he could keep going.
“I can get the doctors and physios to confirm that,” Djokovic said.
“For me, it was a huge obstacle and challenge. I haven’t practised with the days between the matches.
“The good thing is I actually had the day between every match because that gave me more time to heal.
“I spent probably out of, I don’t know, 14 waking hours, I spent 10 hours on the table and doing everything I possibly can.
“It worked. I owe great gratitude to my physio putting in a lot of hours and knowledge and know-how.”
Djokovic said he simply must have greater powers of recovery than most.
“I guess we’re all different. I have maybe a great ability to heal,” he said.
“I don’t know, I just managed somehow with pills and pain-killers and stuff.
“At the end of the day, it was a great experience for me. I will definitely learn some great lessons.”