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Novak Djokovic expects Andy Murray to play through pain if needed to defend his Wimbledon title

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic with their Wimbledon final trophies in 2013
Declan Warrington

Novak Djokovic expects Andy Murray to either recover from his hip injury or play through pain to defend his title next week at Wimbledon.

The world number one's preparations were again undermined when injury forced his withdrawal from an exhibition match at Hurlingham scheduled for Friday.

On Tuesday the same problem led to him pulling out of facing France's Lucas Pouille, with the Scot having also suffered from shingles, the flu and an elbow injury amid his inconsistent form so far in 2017.

World number four Djokovic on Wednesday learnt he had been seeded second behind Murray at Wimbledon, despite his disappointing results over the past 12 months.

His rivalry with his fellow 30-year-old will likely be the one that defines his career, and discussing Murray's prospects he said: "I'm sure Andy does everything in his power to get himself ready and prepared for his first match.

"He's got a team of great professionals. There is a reason behind it, because they all make sure that every single aspect of our bodies are being taken care of and worked on and to the state where you can perform your best.

"At times it's not possible. But we have learned how to play through pain. Professional athletes are very familiar with pain on a daily basis, whether it's a small stiffness, tightness, soreness, or something even bigger.

"There are times when you have to take anti-inflammatories. There are times when you try to do it without the tablets. I'm sure all the athletes can relate to that. I'm against tablets and anti-inflammatories, but at times I have to take them because I've got to play a match in a grand slam.

"If I have an issue, I have to ask a question whether I want to play kind of 50 per cent or I want to play 100 per cent if I have an opportunity to do that.

"There is always something that is going on, but we are not robots. We are humans, we have to deal with those things. Those adversities that we have to face on the court and challenges are actually there to be presented as an opportunity for us to learn, to get stronger, to grow.

"This is a challenge that is not unknown to him. He has faced these kind of circumstances before where he hasn't maybe played as much, didn't have as good results that he had over the years.

"But he's a champion. He's someone that has proven so many times that he's one of the best players in the world. He's defending champion of Wimbledon. You've got to take this in consideration rather than just focusing on this very present moment."

Djokovic had earlier overcome Donald Young of America 6-2 7-6 (11/9) to progress to the semi-finals of the Aegon International at Eastbourne, where he is the number one seed.

He excelled throughout the 26-minute first set in the same way he did throughout the second of Wednesday's defeat of Vasek Pospisil, before becoming frustrated and was stretched to a tiebreak.

"I enjoyed it, especially in the second set," the Serbian said. "Donald started playing with less unforced errors, putting more variety, using his forehand very well from all over the court.

"He served for the set, had a set point, had set point in the tiebreak. I'm just glad I held my composure, my nerves.

"Grass is a very demanding surface. Especially when you're running all over the court, especially if you're further back. That's where you are in a danger zone in terms of movement."


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