Novak Djokovic exits the French Open due to a knee injury, relinquishing his No. 1 ranking

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Novak Djokovic slipped and fell mid-game

Novak Djokovic had to leave the French Open because he hurt his knee. This means he can’t defend his title, and he’ll lose his spot as the top-ranked player.

Djokovic explained on social media that he tried his best in his last match but had to quit because of a tear in his knee. Doctors found out the extent of his injury with a special test called an MRI.

The injury happened during a tough match that lasted a long time. Djokovic played two matches in a row that lasted five sets, totaling over 9 hours on the court.

He was supposed to play against Casper Ruud next, but because he withdrew, Ruud automatically moves forward to the semifinals. Ruud will play against either Alexander Zverev or Alex de Minaur.

Now that Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are out, someone new will win the French Open this year. Among the players still in the running is Jannik Sinner, who just defeated Grigor Dimitrov and will likely take Djokovic’s top ranking. Sinner would be the first Italian man to reach No. 1.

During Sinner’s match with Dimitrov, he didn’t know about Djokovic withdrawing until someone told him during an interview after his win.

“It’s disappointing for everyone to see Novak hurt,” Sinner said. “I hope he gets better soon.” Regarding his new position?

“It’s really important to me,” said Sinner. He will play against either Carlos Alcaraz or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals on Friday.

Jannik Sinner celebrates after winning the match

Djokovic’s season hasn’t been great. He’s only won 18 out of 24 matches and hasn’t reached any finals, let alone won any tournaments. He needed to do well in the French Open to keep his record for the most weeks as No. 1.

For a long time, Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer were the top players, winning a total of 66 major championships. But Federer is retired now, and Nadal, who just turned 38, is thinking about how much longer he can keep playing after being injured for most of the past 1 1/2 years.

No one knows yet how long Djokovic, who is 37, will be out of the game or what it might mean for his future.

Wimbledon, where he has won seven times, starts on July 1, and the tennis event at the Paris Olympics begins at Roland Garros on July 27.

“I noticed that he was obviously struggling physically yesterday, and I honestly thought … he was about to lose,” said U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff, who reached the women’s semifinals with a three-set victory over Ons Jabeur and will face No. 1 Iga Swiatek on Thursday.

Gauff said seeing Djokovic win against Cerundolo made her believe “that he would win the title.”

Djokovic had been dealing with knee issues for a few weeks before arriving in Paris for the French Open — something he didn’t share until after the match against Cerundolo. In the early part of the second set on Monday, Djokovic hurt his knee and took a medical timeout.

Novak Djokovic slipped in the fouth round

A trainer treated the joint then and during breaks, and Djokovic took what he said a tournament doctor advised as the maximum dose of pain-relief pills and anti-inflammatory medicine.

“I don’t know what will happen tomorrow — or, the day after tomorrow, if I’ll be able to go out on the court and play,” Djokovic said Monday evening.

Djokovic was behind by two sets to one and was losing at 4-2 in the fourth set against Cerundolo before improving his game once the medication started working.

“I was,” Djokovic said afterward, “maybe three or four points away from losing this match.”

He managed to finish and win — it was his 370th Grand Slam victory, breaking the record he shared with Federer for the most in tennis history — but it was costly. Djokovic said on Monday he believed it could have been avoided if the clay on Court Philippe Chatrier had been better maintained.


By Christopher Kamila

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