Novak Djokovic faces uncertain future after latest huge announcement

Djokovic withdrew from the French Open but his latest announcement does not offer much hope,
Novak Djokovic at French Open
Novak Djokovic at French Open / Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Novak Djokovic has been in some of his worst form in 2024 than at any point in his career. He was not seemingly injured for most of the season, but he still failed to make a final at any event. At a couple of tournaments, he was lucky to make the semifinals. If this was simply a matter of age catching up to Djokovic, that happened fast as he was playing at an extremely high level at the end of last year.

Djokovic is 37 years old, though, and plays a sport that is hard on the joints. Playing at a consistently high level into one's late 30s is unusual, and unlikely Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, Djokovic had not suffered an injury that kept him out of most of an entire year. 2017 was the toughest time he had with injury and he missed the last five months of the year.

The knee injury he suffered at the French Open might be a long-term issue, however. He was playing on painkillers in the final set of a five-set match against Francisco Cerundolo. A player is unlikely to have much success long-term if they are in constant pain in a knee, wrist, or shoulder. This is especially true for a player as old as Djokovic. According to ESPN, Djokovic will have surgery on Wednesday in Paris for a torn meniscus.

Novak Djokovic's timetable for return is unknown

After withdrawing from Roland Garros before his quarterfinal match was to be played against Casper Ruud on Wednesday, Djokovic posted on Instagram saying, "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."

Near the end of the post was, "See you soon." That is far too vague to give tennis fans hope of a quick recovery for the Serb. He likely does not know when he will come back. Djokovic does know he will lose his ATP No. 1 ranking to Jannik Sinner for not making the final at the French Open, but his health is much more important. This could mean that Djokovic misses Wimbledon in July.

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Former ATP No. 1 Boris Becker (who was also a former coach of Djokovic's) said Djokovic had been dealing with knee issues for several tournaments this year. This was nothing Djokovic announced, but he is also not one to make excuses for losses normally. Becker also thinks the aggravation of the Serb's injury at the French Open is not good news for Djokovic fans.

Becker told Eurosport, "This is bad news for all Djokovic fans and I’m one of them...He already had knee problems at the last few tournaments but never spoke about them. That’s obviously very bitter for him. I wish him a speedy recovery so that he is fit again for the grass court season...It’s a serious injury and it won’t go away tomorrow. That leaves me a bit speechless."

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