Why did Novak Djokovic withdraw from the French Open? Tennis star out after fourth-round knee injury

The reigning champion at Roland-Garros will be unable to defend his crown.

Novak Djokovic, the 2023 French Open men’s singles winner, has withdrawn from the tournament after topping Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round, Roland-Garros announced. Casper Ruud, the player set to face Djokovic in the quarterfinals, will now advance to the semifinals.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 men’s tennis player, is the holder of 24 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, more than any other player in men’s history. He has won the French Open three times: 2016, 2021 and 2023. His three wins at Roland-Garros are the fewest of any of the four Grand Slam events.

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Here’s why Djokovic was forced to withdraw, and what it means for the rest of his 2024.

Why did Novak Djokovic withdraw from the French Open?

Djokovic suffered a knee injury during his fourth-round win against Cerundolo. During his second set on Monday, he slipped and had to be attended to by a trainer.

He lost the set 7-5 and the third set 6-3, but won the next two 7-5 and 6-3 to advance past Cerundolo to reach the quarterfinals. He reportedly took the maximum dose of painkilling pills during the match to reduce pain and reduce inflammation in his knee, per the Associated Press, and was unsure of what would be next.

It was confirmed after the match Djokovic had suffered a “torn medial meniscus in his right knee,” per Roland-Garros, as confirmed by an MRI on Tuesday.

Djokovic was critical of the conditions on the court after his injury, saying there was “almost no clay on the court today,” per The Athletic.

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“Because of the drier conditions and sun and warmer conditions, it affects the clay in such a way that it becomes very slippery,” Djokovic said, per The Athletic. “So the injury that I had today with the knee happened exactly because of that, because I slipped, and I slide a lot.”

By being forced to withdraw from the French Open, Djokovic will cede the No. 1 tennis ranking spot to Jannik Sinner.

MORE: Updated men’s, women’s results from French Open

Will Novak Djokovic miss Wimbledon?

Wimbledon will be held from July 1 to July 14, 2024. Djokovic’s injury now puts his chances of playing at the tournament in serious jeopardy and potentially the Olympics, which will be back at Roland Garros in late July. Even with all his major championships, he has never won a gold medal.

Djokovic, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, could opt to have surgery to repair the torn meniscus, which could keep him out of not only Wimbledon and the Olympics, but the US Open, which starts in late August. 

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