A well-grounded case can now be made for Novak Djokovic and Australian Open boss Craig Tiley being wide of the mark about the Serbian champion’s hamstring tear.
Many have been questioning the claim made by Tiley that Djokovic won his 22nd grand slam title despite carrying a three-centimetre tear in his left hamstring.
Punters, former AFL footballers and media types have joined the debate, scoffing despite not having qualification papers to back up their criticism.
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But renowned sports physician Dr Peter Larkins has added a dependable voice to the discussion.
“I’m going to say no.”
That is, Dr Larkins doesn’t believe Djokovic won his 10th Australian Open crown with a three-centimetre tear in his hamstring.
Tiley had made the claim on SEN radio on Wednesday, triggering a rampant global argument.
“This guy, I did see — he had a three-centimetre tear in his hammy,” Tiley said.
“Absolutely, (I saw the scans).
“The doctors are going to tell you the truth.
“There was a lot of speculation about whether it was true or not. It’s hard to believe what they can do, what they do with those kinds of injuries.”
Larkins suspects Tiley was misled by an MRI.
“It’s rare air we’re talking about here,” he told SEN.
“I’d like to see the scan. I heard Craig’s comments and he said the doctors were being honest. Well, let’s see the scan.
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“I’m wondering if Craig is confusing signal of three-centimetre distance in an MRI hamstring. Signal can mean some inflammation or some swelling; it doesn’t mean a tear.
“It’s very hard to imagine. If you take a piece of steak and cut a three-centimetre hole in it — steak is muscle — then it’s very hard to do the level of performance.
“I never doubted that Novak was carrying a hamstring injury. It was well managed, I know his team, they’re not allowed to talk in detail publicly, but there’s going to be speculation unless this is resolved.
“I think Craig is confusing what might have been an MRI change showing some damage in the area, rather than a three-centimetre split or gap, but it may depend on which area it was in.
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“It looked like it was in the biceps, which is the main hamstring, but it is setting a precedent that is hard to be resolved unless there is something miraculous about Novak.”
Djokovic played the majority of the Australian Open with a heavily strapped hamstring.
The 35-year-old appeared hampered by his hamstring in some matches but looked to move freely and without pain in others.
He defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final and regained the world No.1 ranking for the first time since June last year.
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are now equal on a record 22 grand slam titles.
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