June 4, 2024

Novak Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker has admitted he has been left “speechless” after a serious injury forced the world No 1 to withdraw from the French Open.


The defending Roland Garros champion and 24-time Slam winner has suffered a meniscus tear and is unable to continue his title defence, with prospective quarter-final opponent Casper Ruud handed a walkover into the last four.


Doubts circled over Djokovic after he was struggling physically in his round of 16 contest against Francisco Cerundolo, a match where he trailed by two sets to one and a break – but still managed to win.


The Serbian cast doubts about whether he would return to court in the aftermath of the contest and his unfortunate withdrawal was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.


Becker, himself a former world No 1, is close to Djokovic, having coached him for three hugely successful years.


And the German admitted he was disappointed to hear the shock news – and warned Djokovic fans that the Serbian may be forced to take a lengthy layoff, with an operation on the issue possible.


He said: “This is bad news for all Djokovic fans and I’m one of them.


“You could almost guess it after the match against Cerúndolo, which he played with a limp. The painkillers made the fifth set easier, but he had already warned that evening what the next morning would be like.


Novak Djokovic makes bombshell French Open announcement

“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. You need your knees on grass, you really do slip all the time.


“A torn medial meniscus is a serious injury and the question naturally arises as to whether surgery is necessary.”


Djokovic’s withdrawal means that Jannik Sinner will rise to world No 1 for the first time next Monday, with the Italian guaranteed to rise to top spot no matter how he fares throughout his campaign.


Sinner was playing his quarter-final against Grigor Dimitrov when the news broke, and he only found out after his straight-sets victory that he would usurp Djokovic.


Becker added: “It’s a historic moment in tennis – a new number one who is playing at the moment and doesn’t even know about it yet. It’s crazy. Italy will celebrate him!”

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