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Djokovic 'pain free' as he prepares for return in Dubai

Djokovic 'pain free' as he prepares for return in Dubai
Novak Djokovic speaks during a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia on Feb 22, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters

Novak Djokovic said he was now playing without pain after recovering from a hamstring injury as he prepares to return to the ATP Tour in Dubai this week, following his record-extending 10th Australian Open title last month.

Djokovic suffered a three-centimetre hamstring tear en route to winning the Adelaide warm-up event before claiming his 22nd Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park to go level with Rafa Nadal.

The 35-year-old Serb said his Dubai participation was in doubt until a few days ago but he had passed all his fitness tests.

"Had a couple of weeks of no tennis. The last few days it's really getting as much practice as possible to get myself back in shape to be able to compete at a high level," Djokovic said.

"I haven't felt pain on the court for a week. I'm getting closer to 100 per cent. Still not there in terms of the game and how I feel on court. But the important thing is there's no pain. I don't have a hindrance in the way I move on the court.

"After every injury it takes time for mechanisms to be balanced, for adjustments to be done on court. It takes time to find that groove of moving effortlessly and not thinking about if something's going to happen. I don't have those thoughts."

Djokovic begins the Dubai tournament having entered his 378th week as world number one, surpassing Steffi Graf as the player with the most weeks at the top of the sport.

"It's surreal to be that many weeks number one, to match Graf – one of the all-time greats," Djokovic said. "Just being amongst these legendary names is flattering. I'm proud of it."

Djokovic meets Czech Tomas Machac in the first round on Tuesday (Feb 28).

ALSO READ: 'King of Melbourne Park' Djokovic lands 10th Australian Open title

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