Jelena Dokic has opened up to Novak Djokovic about a brutally awkward moment between the two from years ago.
The Aussie tennis icon turned commentator stood on Rod Laver Arena with the Serbian superstar following his third round victory against Grigor Dimitrov.
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As the interview got underway Djokovic said to Dokic “I haven’t seen you in ages” before he was pressed on their first encounter.
“You know when was the first time we saw each other here?” Dokic asked.
Confused, Djokovic responded: “It was the first time?”
Dokic clarified: “No no, do you remember, when was the first time I actually met you here at the Australian Open?”
Despite being put on the spot the 21-time Grand Slam winner correctly guessed they had spoken in 2006, two years before he first reigned supreme at Melbourne Park but two years after the pair had a practice together.
But it was then that Dokic revealed the brutally awkward moment from their encounter 17 years ago.
“You came to me in 2006, and you said ‘hi I’m Novak Djokovic, do you remember me?’ And I said to you ‘yes I do’, and I have to admit, I didn’t. We hit two years earlier – I pretended I did, but I definitely know who you are now!” Dokic said as the crowd broke out into fits of laughter.
Djokovic, stunned from what he’d just learned, responded saying the moment was one he was looking forward to. Despite the brutal reveal he was still happy to be talking to Dokic again.
“I was looking up to you, obviously. You played for Australia but you came from our region, we speak the same language and you were a big star at the time,” Djokovic said.
“I was really happy to play with you, it’s great to see you again.”
“The pleasure was all mine,” Dokic replied.
The Serb came through a titanic 77-minute first set before taming the Bulgarian 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 despite needing treatment twice on his troublesome hamstring.
He will face home hope Alex de Minaur for a place in the quarter-finals after the 22nd seed defeated Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi in three sets.
Djokovic’s gutsy win inched him nearer to a 10th Australian Open title and record-tying 22 Grand Slam crowns.
Winning once again in Melbourne would also return him to world number one for the first time since June.
Now 35, Djokovic said he was savouring each tournament more. “Every season counts I guess now, when you come to the last stage, the last quarter, of your career,” he said.
“Obviously you start appreciating and valuing each tournament more because you might not have a lot left in the tank.
“I’ve been truly fortunate to do what I love, I love the sport, I love competing. It’s been almost 20 years now of professional sport. I can’t be more grateful than I am.”
Victory put Djokovic into the last 16 for a 15th time but he was made to work for it, especially with his left hamstring troubling him.
“It kind of always starts well in last few matches, including this one, and then some movement happens and then it gets worse,” he said.
“Pills kick in, some hot cream and stuff. That works for a little bit, then it doesn’t, then works again. It’s really a rollercoaster, honestly.
“I’ll take it match by match. I don’t know what awaits, but I do hope and I have faith for the best.”
Djokovic aggravated his hamstring during his run to a 92nd title at the Adelaide International this month and has been struggling with it since.
– with AFP