Injury Halts Djokovic Title Defense at Roland Garros; Sinner New World No. 1
Novak Djokovic playing the round of 16 in Monte-Carlo, Principality of Monaco. April 11, 2024. Photo courtesy: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Three-time Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the Slam with a right knee injury on Tuesday, which guarantees Jannik Sinner will be the new No. 1 on Monday, becoming the first Italian to reach the feat.

On Tuesday, the tennis world awoke to the shocking news that reigning champion Novak Djokovic had pulled out of the French Open before his quarterfinal match against seventh seed Casper Ruud due to a right knee injury.

The Serbian, who needed to reach the final at the major to continue at the top of the rankings, sees second seed Jannik Sinner becoming the first Italian player in the sport’s history to achieve such a feat, assured of rise to the No. 1 spot on Monday.

On Tuesday, the 22-year-old Italian progressed to his maiden Roland Garros semifinal by beating 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.

Next, Sinner, who has lost just one set in Paris, will square off against former U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz for a place in the final.

The Withdrawal

As the day wore on, the tournament as the player issued more details on the subject through social media.

Roland Garros X account shared the news, asserting: “Djokovic has withdrawn from Roland-Garros due to a right knee injury due to a torn medial meniscus in his right knee (discovered during an MRI scan performed today). Wishing Novak a speedy recovery.”

The Belgrade-born played two matches (third round and last 16) on Court Philippe-Chatrier, going five sets each, spending over nine hours on the court, finishing off in the early hours of the following morning or late into the night.

Previously, he had competed in his two opening matches that went straight sets, adding four hours and a half to the previous nine.

Djokovic’s statement on Instagram read: “I am really sad to announce that I have to withdraw from Roland Garros.

I played with my heart and gave my all in yesterday’s match, and unfortunately, due to a medial meniscus tear in my right knee, my team and I had to make a tough decision after careful consideration and consultation.”

I wish the best of luck to the players competing this week and sincerely thank the incredible fans for all the love and continued support.

On Monday night, the 98-time ATP titlist returned on Court Philippe-Chatrier to to play his round of 16 contest against 23rd seed Cerundolo, and there were plenty of signs something was wrong with his right knee.

He quickly took the first set, but soon, the timing shifted; it was at the end of the third game of the second set when Djokovic seemed to have suffered a tweak to his knee, which led to a medical time-out for treatment.

The physio would return to treat the area several times throughout the encounter. Nearly mid-way through the fourth set, he took anti-inflammatory tablets, and then he was back at it when trailing two sets to one.

From there on, he pulled a comeback many would have deemed impossible, the kind only the greatest elite athletes know how to find a way through.

It took me back to Indian Wells 2022, the epic three-hour semifinal clash between Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Alcaraz, which the former won in spectacular fashion playing (without knowledge) with a stress fracture to his left rib.

In that match, the 22-time major champion called the physio as he experienced chest pain, which he later described as if a needle was inside his chest all the time.

However, he did not believe it was anything serious, outlining: “You never know, but I am confident that nothing will happen.”

Nadal went on to compete in the final against American Taylor Fritz and lost fighting until the last ball.

Upon arrival in Barcelona, he underwent further tests, and his medical team revealed the bad news, confirming the injury was worse than expected.

The discomfort he felt was, in fact, a stress fracture in the left rib, a true story.

Djokovic injury is different, but both have in common they were feeling some discomfort before something triggered a worse outcome, in the case of the 24-time Slam winner, a tweak to his knee.

The 37-year-old turned around the tie, surpassing Roger Federer for the most major match wins in history (370), though, in his post-match press conference, he expressed doubts about being able to continue to compete in Paris.

The last couple weeks, I have had slight discomfort, I would call it, in the right knee, but I haven’t had an injury that would be concerning me. I played a few tournaments with it and had no issues until today.”

Adding: “Of course, [the] late finish from a few nights ago didn’t help the sleeping, the biorhythm, and recovery. But I felt great coming into the match - as good as I could under the circumstances - and played really well in the first set. Then, in the third game of the second set, I slipped, one of the many times I slipped and fell today. That affected the knee.”

The injury casts doubts on whether he will be able to compete at Wimbledon, just four weeks away, or the Olympics, beginning in seven weeks. But he will aim to be fit again as soon as possible, or impossible.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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