Will Novak Djokovic’s French Open injury derail Wimbledon plans or force his retirement?

Novak Djokovic pictured in action against Francisco Cerundolo at the French Open
Novak Djokovic has been ruled out for at least three weeks (Picture: Getty)

Novak Djokovic has been forced to withdraw from the French Open due to injury and his meniscus tear could be a major problem for Wimbledon and beyond.

Djokovic wanted to win a historic 25th Grand Slam singles title at Roland-Garros, but suffered a nasty right knee problem against Francisco Cerundolo.

The 37-year-old defeated the Argentinian over five sets but was clearly uncomfortable and required medical timeouts and painkillers to complete the match in the fourth round.

Ahead of his quarterfinal match against Casper Ruud, Djokovic made the difficult decision to withdraw from the marquee event. He played on the clay courts in Paris and attention has now turned to his recovery time and when he will return.

What do we know about Novak Djokovic’s meniscus tear?

Novak Djokovic pictured in a medical timeout against Francisco Cerundolo at the French Open
Novak Djokovic required medical timeouts and painkillers on Monday (Photo: Getty)

Novak Djokovic has suffered a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. The meniscus is a semicircle of cartilage located on the inner half of the knee joint.

Djokovic’s team decided that the Serbian veteran would undergo surgery, according to L’Équipe, which took place today (Wednesday) at a Parisian clinic.

A young French surgeon performed the procedure and Djokovic has now been ruled out for at least three weeks.

Will Novak Djokovic be fit enough to play Wimbledon?

Novak Djokovic in action against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon 2023
Novak Djokovic is likely to miss Wimbledon and prioritize the Olympics (Photo: Getty)

Given his incredible success at the championships, there is no doubt that Novak Djokovic will be desperate to play Wimbledon in 2024.

He will be particularly keen to compete in SW19 after losing the final to Carlos Alcaraz last year and failing to reach either of this year’s first two Grand Slams.

But with the championships starting on July 1 – and Djokovic facing at least three weeks on the sidelines – he now faces a huge race against time.

L’Équipe reports that Djokovic is likely to miss Wimbledon and is prioritizing his fitness for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

What Novak Djokovic said about tennis retirement

Novak Djokovic addresses the crowd at the 2024 French Open after beating Lorenzo Musetti
Novak Djokovic is keen to win an Olympic gold medal this summer (Photo: Getty)

Novak Djokovic’s meniscus tear won’t force him to hang up his racket just yet as the Serbian is keen to win a gold medal in Paris this summer.

It is a common injury in active adults, especially middle-aged men and especially in tennis players with long careers.

Roger Federer had surgery for a torn meniscus in his mid-30s, while Taylor Fritz played at Wimbledon 23 days after surgery on the injury, although the latter was treated with a debridement.

What is debridement?

Surgery to cut away dead tissue, known as debridement, is often necessary to prevent spread and allow surrounding healthy tissue to heal, the NHS says.

That said, Djokovic has spoken about retirement several times and has acknowledged that he is coming to the end of his career.

Djokovic said he “don’t know how long he’s going to be here” after losing the Wimbledon final last year, while his own father would like to see him retire.

In March this year, Djokovic admitted: ‘Rafa (Nadal) and I probably won’t play much anymore.’

Who will win the French Open after Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal?

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are the two biggest favorites to win the Roland-Garros title this year, after the departure of Novak Djokovic.

Sinner, who is on the verge of overtaking Djokovic as the new world No. 1, won the first Grand Slam of 2024 at the Australian Open and is keen to win back-to-back major titles.

Alcaraz, the current Wimbledon champion, will fancy his own chances as he prepares for the French Open semi-final against Sinner on Friday.

Casper Ruud is in the other semi-final and will face Alexander Zverev, who eliminated Rafael Nadal, or Katie Boulter’s friend Alex de Minaur.

How bad has 2024 been for Novak Djokovic?

Really bad. He still hasn’t won a single title on the ATP Tour this year, which seems incredible considering his usual dominance.

Even at the Grand Slams, where Djokovic has stepped up a gear, he has struggled, crashing out of the Australian Open semi-finals due to injury before bowing out of the French Open.

He parted ways with his coach Goran Ivanisevic this year and suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats of his entire career at Indian Wells in March.

Playing at the Italian Open in May, Djokovic lost in the round of 32 in his fastest defeat on clay, with the Serb being booed and hit by a water bottle.

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