Novak Djokovic withdraws from the French Open with a knee injury

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the French Open due to a knee injury which had plagued his fourth-round victory against Francisco Cerúndolo on Monday.

Defending champion Djokovic was aiming to win his 25th grand slam singles title at Roland Garros, but pain in his right knee flared up during a bruising, five-set contest against Cerúndolo.

“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,” Djokovic said on Instagram confirming his withdrawal Tuesday.

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

Tournament organizers had earlier reported the Serbian world No. 1’s withdrawal from the tournament in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday, wishing him a speedy recovery.

The 37-year-old’s hard-fought victory against Cerúndolo came just two days after he played another five-set match against Lorenzo Musetti in the third round, which finished just after 3 a.m. local time.

And while Djokovic showed phenomenal resolve and perseverance to come back and win against Cerúndolo, he later admitted to having concerns about pain in his right knee, which he said only subsided once his medication had kicked in near the end of the match.

“At one point, I didn’t know, to be honest, whether I should continue or not with what’s happening,” Djokovic told reporters on Monday.

He added that he had felt “slight discomfort” in the knee prior to the tournament but said it wasn’t “an injury that would be concerning me at all.”

Djokovic receives treatment to his knee during the victory against Cerúndolo. - Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
Djokovic receives treatment to his knee during the victory against Cerúndolo. - Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

After dominating the first set, Djokovic tweaked his knee at the start of the second and took a medical timeout. The 37-year-old later acknowledged that his movement was hampered, particularly when he was forced to make a sudden change of direction or race to the net to retrieve a drop shot.

It was only near the end of the fourth set when Djokovic was able to seemingly move without pain and raise his game.

He said that persistent rain in Paris had made the courts more slippery than usual and that his request for the clay to be swept more regularly during the match was rejected.

“I slipped way too many times,” Djokovic told reporters. “That is quite unusual … I’ve slipped and fallen on the clay many times in my life, and on grass as well, but this was just too many times today.

“Could this injury have been prevented?” he added. “Possibly, if there was just a little bit more frequent care of the court during the set. That’s basically all I asked for.”

CNN has contacted French Open organizers for further comment.

Djokovic’s withdrawal means that his scheduled quarterfinal opponent, Norwegian Casper Ruud, will progress to the semifinals, while Jannik Sinner, the reigning Australian Open champion, will rise to the top of the world rankings for the first time in his career.

Sinner will become Italy’s first ever tennis world No. 1 at the end of the French Open. He reached the semifinals on Tuesday after defeating Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

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