Alex de Minaur in huge last-minute Wimbledon switch amid massive Novak Djokovic decision

The Aussie tennis player has had to change his plans for the grass-court grand slam.

Novak Djokovic has declared himself 'pain free' and is shaping towards playing Wimbledon, and he could be on a collision course with Aussie star Alex de Minaur. It looked like Djokovic might miss the grass-court grand slam when he had to undergo knee surgery following the French Open, but he got through a practice match with Daniil Medvedev on Friday and appears intent on playing.

His movement wasn't completely perfect in the 6-3 6-4 win over Medvedev, and Djokovic - who wore strapping on his right knee - showed some reluctance to push off from that leg when out wide. But the 24-time grand slam champion served well and struck the ball crisply.

Alex de Minaur and Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.
Alex de Minaur (L) has had a last-minute change of opponent, while Novak Djokovic (R) appears likely to play. Image: Getty

Asked about his fitness afterwards, the 37-year-old initially gave a big sigh before saying: "I can tell you that I enjoyed myself really, really much today. I can tell you that pain-free tennis is the best tennis. I was pain-free and I'm really glad. It was a great test obviously against one of the best players in the world.

"I've played a couple of practice sets but I really wanted to test myself. The test was very successful so I'm obviously really glad. It's been an intense three weeks after surgery, spending a lot of hours rehabbing.

"I kind of always wanted to give myself a chance to be in London. I think my surgeon is here. He's the MVP for sure the last three weeks. I'm trying to take it day by day and see how far it goes."

Novak Djokovic, pictured here on the practice court at Wimbledon.
Novak Djokovic on the practice court at Wimbledon. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Djokovic had previously said he would only play Wimbledon if he thought he could win the title. The Serbian star has been leaning on fellow athletes who have suffered similar injuries - including American player Taylor Fritz, who was in the same situation three years ago but recovered in time for Wimbledon.

"I asked him, I asked many athletes - (Stan) Wawrinka, Lindsey Vonn, Zlatan Ibrahimovic - and they were all very kind to share some of their experiences and give me some contacts of people who could help me out," Djokovic said. Medvedev admitted he didn't sense any weakness in his opponent, but thinks there could still be question marks about how Djokovic will handle the demands of Wimbledon.

"He seems to be fine. You never know what he feels inside of him," the World No.5 said. "It's a five-set match on grass (at Wimbledon), never easy for the knee, so I don't know how it's going to go during the matches. But he seemed to be moving well, even if I got him off guard a little bit."


If Djokovic does take his place in the tournament he could face de Minaur in the quarter-finals. The Aussie ninth seed was thrown a big curveball on Friday when his original first-round opponent - unpredictable French player Corentin Moutet - withdrew and was replaced by Aussie compatriot James Duckworth.

Moutet withdrew from with a wrist injury, offering up a dream opportunity for Duckworth. The Aussie had been knocked out in the final round of qualifying, but will now play fellow Sydneysider de Minaur as a 'lucky loser' entry into the main draw.

Alex de Minaur, pictured here at the All England Club ahead of Wimbledon.
Alex de Minaur at the All England Club ahead of Wimbledon. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Another interesting first-round match-up involves Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko, who had a nasty war-of-words after a match at Wimbledon in 2021. It shapes as a 'grudge match' for the Aussie and Latvian, although they did bury the hatchet after playing each other again at the Australian Open in January.

with agences