Novak Djokovic has proven why he is a ‘great champion’ at the Australian Open

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic discusses injury issues

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Novak Djokovic has proved at this year’s Australian Open why he is a great champion, according to former British No 1 Tim Henman. Djokovic overcame difficult tests against Milos Ranoic and Alexander Zverev to reach Thursday’s semi-final against qualifier Aslan Karatsev. The world No 1 has done so despite struggling with an abdominal injury suffered in the third round win over Taylor Fritz.

Djokovic is aiming to win his ninth Australian Open singles title, and make it three tournament wins in a row in Melbourne for the second time in his career.

His chances were boosted on Wednesday when world No 2 and old rival Rafael Nadal crashed out in five sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Speaking ahead of the match against Karatsev, Henman praised the resilience of Djokovic in the last two weeks to win despite playing through pain.

And the pundit believes that is a sign of what a good player he is.

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“There’s been a few bumps in the road, he’s had some difficult matches,” Henman said on Eurosport.

“I don’t think he’s played his best tennis. He’s been frustrated, he’s smashed a racket, he’s had physical issues with his hip area.

“But for me that is the sign of a great player and a great champion, that he’s through to the semi-finals and he hasn’t played his best tennis.

“Add to that with Nadal going out, he realises what an amazing opportunity this is ahead of him.”

Meanwhile, seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Mats Wilander still believes the injury is affecting Djokovic.

However, he says the Serbian has shown great mental strength to overcome several tough challenges.

“I think mentally he’s in a really good place right now, because he’s overcome his physical issues,” Wilander said.

“We still heard him say or hint that if he is 100 per cent physically then he’d be okay.

“So obviously the injury’s not completely gone but he’s gone through the ringer in terms of the mental capacity and the way he beat Taylor Fritz in the end, and then Milos Raonic and Sascha Zverev, not an easy draw if you have a little bit of a problem in your hip.

“So I think mentally he’s all there, physically I guess he doesn’t even know himself so how can we even have an idea?”

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