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The information that Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the French Open with a torn meniscus was a type of moments at Roland Garros the place the gasps had been audible.

It wasn’t an enormous shock given Djokovic mentioned he was not sure if he would play his quarterfinal after choosing up the injury in a fourth-round win over Francisco Cerundolo. Nonetheless, to lose the world No. 1 and defending champion on this method is large.

However what are the implications of Djokovic’s withdrawal — for him, the occasion, and the game usually?


What it means for Novak Djokovic

What is Djokovic’s injury?

Djokovic withdrew from the French Open on Tuesday with a tear within the medial meniscus of his proper knee. The meniscus is a semicircle of cartilage that sits on the within half of the knee joint. It’s an especially frequent injury amongst energetic adults, particularly middle-aged males, and can carry various quantities of ache.

In tennis gamers, particularly over a protracted taking part in profession, it’s extra possible that any tear can be a sluggish degeneration that will get aggravated moderately than a sudden, acute tear. Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are among the many gamers who’ve had surgical procedure on a torn meniscus in the previous couple of years whereas of their mid-30s, even when the previous was a freak injury whereas working the tub for his children.

Restoration doesn’t at all times contain surgical procedure. Some folks choose to keep away from surgical procedure – which may produce long-term problems like scarring and arthritis – and get well with bodily remedy by build up the muscle mass across the knee. Whether or not that’s an choice can depend upon the severity of the tear, and even when it’s not, the kind of surgical procedure additionally is dependent upon the severity of the injury, whether or not acute or constructed up over time.


Djokovic performed by means of the injury towards Francisco Cerundolo (Bertrand Guay / AFP by way of Getty Photos)

American No. 1 Taylor Fritz performed at Wimbledon 23 days after an operation on a meniscus injury, however that was handled with a debridement, which trims the broken part of the meniscus. If Djokovic’s injury is simply too extreme for that, a full restore utilizing stitches can be required, which extends the restoration time into months.

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Novak Djokovic withdraws from French Open with knee injury

What are Djokovic and his workforce saying about his injury?

Not a lot. The workforce was nonetheless absorbing the prognosis and the fact of Djokovic not with the ability to proceed defending his title on Tuesday night and there was no fast resolution about whether or not he would bear surgical procedure.

There may be lingering anger over the choice by event organisers to not take heed to Djokovic’s warnings that the courts had been turning into dangerously slippery due to the fixed rain throughout the previous week and then the short shift to dry circumstances Saturday night time and Monday afternoon when he performed.

About an hour after the event introduced the withdrawal, Djokovic posted on Instagram confirming the character of the injury and added: “My team and I had to make a tough decision after careful consideration and consultation.”

When will Djokovic return to tennis?

It’s too early to inform. Meniscus tears range in severity. Evidently, if Djokovic does seem at Wimbledon on July 1, he possible won’t be as formidable a drive as he has been for greater than a decade when he has solidified his place because the world’s finest grass-court participant.

After Wimbledon, the tennis world’s focus turns to the Olympics on the finish of July, the place Djokovic can be determined to win a first-ever gold medal on the Video games.


What it means for the French Open

What does this imply for the French Open draw?

Djokovic’s withdrawal blows the highest half of the draw broad open. Casper Ruud, the runner-up for the previous two years, has a bye to the semifinals, the place he’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal between Alexander Zverev and Alex de Minaur. Zverev is trying to attain a fourth straight Roland Garros semifinal, whereas de Minaur had by no means gone past the second spherical right here till this 12 months.

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What does this imply for tennis extra broadly?

No matter occurs, there can be a brand new winner of this occasion for the primary time since 2016, when Djokovic received his first title. Djokovic’s withdrawal additionally extends his troublesome begin to the 12 months, the place he’s but to achieve a remaining. It’s the primary time since 2018 that he has entered each of the primary two Grand Slams of the 12 months and received neither.

It additionally means a brand new ATP Tour world No. 1, with Jannik Sinner assured to take that spot come Monday, June 10, attaining the milestone for the primary time in his profession.

Djokovic’s rating place could tumble additional. He has 1,200 factors to defend at Wimbledon, 1,000 at Cincinnati, and 2,000 on the U.S. Open, making for a complete of 4,200. Ought to he not be capable of compete at these occasions, he’ll lose all his factors from them (along with the 1,600 factors coming off on Monday after his comparatively early exit right here), and his rating can be down at round No. 8 on the planet.

He would then be contact and go to even make November’s ATP Finals for the top-eight gamers of the 12 months and in line for his worst year-end rating since he completed simply exterior the highest 10 in 2017 after an injury-ravaged season.

Ruud scaled


Two-time shedding finalist Casper Ruud is straight into the semifinals (Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP by way of Getty Photos)

What does this imply for the French Open organisers?

Djokovic pulling out is a nightmare for the French Tennis Federation (FFT).

He blamed the event and “very slippery” court docket for his injury on Monday and mentioned his workforce can be talking to the related occasion employees. The power of feeling from the Djokovic camp was nonetheless there on Tuesday.

Djokovic’s exit additionally dramatically will increase the probabilities of Zverev being topped the champion on Sunday. Zverev, the No. 4 seed, is defending himself in a court docket listening to in Berlin over allegations that he abused a former girlfriend throughout an argument in 2020.

In October, the Berlin prison court docket issued a penalty order, fining him €450,000 ($489,000; £384,000) in reference to the fees from Brenda Patea, a mannequin and social media persona who’s the mom of his daughter. Zverev denies the fees. In Germany, a prosecutor can search a penalty order on circumstances it considers easy as a result of there’s compelling proof that it mustn’t require a trial.

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The defendant has a proper to contest the order, which Zverev has accomplished. On Friday, the court docket listening to started in Berlin, which Zverev didn’t must attend. It continued on Monday, with Patea’s testimony given behind closed doorways, and will keep on throughout a sequence of non-consecutive dates this month and subsequent.

Not like different league sports activities, the ATP Tour and tennis usually don’t have a proper coverage on home abuse. Zverev successful one of many greatest prizes within the sport can be an especially uncomfortable state of affairs for the event and the game as an entire.

What do the gamers assume?

Taking a quarterfinal off the schedule doesn’t actually do a lot good for anybody. For Ruud himself, it means a probably rhythm-disrupting three days off, whereas for spectators with day tickets for Wednesday, it means they’re a singles match brief. For Zverev and de Minaur, whoever advances to face Ruud could understand themselves to be at a drawback. A withdrawal at this stage of the event — just like the semifinal withdrawal of Rafael Nadal from Wimbledon in 2022 — instantly invitations questions over sporting integrity.

One resolution can be for Cerundolo, the person Djokovic beat, to be reinstated. The “lucky loser” already exists in tennis: gamers who lose in qualifying earlier than predominant attracts start can stick round on the event venue and nonetheless enter the occasion if a participant within the first spherical withdraws.

This idea hasn’t been utilized to the precise tournaments. When requested in regards to the chance, semifinalist Sinner made the argument that’s most frequently offered in opposition: “He lost already, no?”

Though reinstating the twenty third seed would carry again a match for spectators, and it can be exhausting to argue that Cerundolo wouldn’t be a deserving winner if he bought by means of three elite gamers, it’s an imperfect resolution. Djokovic, regardless of his injury, beat him honest and sq. to choose up the rating factors and prize cash connected. In tennis, these are the breaks.

(Prime photograph: Ibrahim Ezzat / NurPhoto by way of Getty Photos)