June 6, 2024

The ongoing French Open has come under fire from former World No. 1 John McEnroe, who believes that the tournament organizers are partly to blame for Novak Djokovic’s knee injury.


The Defending Roland Garros champion played remarkably through knee pain and won a five-setter in the fourth round against Francisco Cerundolo. However, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament a day later as scans revealed a medial meniscus tear in his right knee.

Djokovic will have to undergo surgery, which has jeopardized his hopes of participating in this year’s Wimbledon Championships. However, he is still expected to feature for Serbia at the Paris Olympics.

The Serb’s withdrawal from the French Open has also seen him being dethroned at the top of the ATP Tour rankings by younger rival Jannik Sinner.

According to McEnroe, the saga surrounding Djokovic’s latest injury stemmed from his late-night marathon encounter against Lorenzo Musetti in the third round on the night of Saturday, June 1. In a bid to keep the tournament’s scheduling on the right track following a messy first week due to daily rains, organizers decided to shift an unfinished third-round match between Grigor Dimitrov and Zizou Bergs to Court Philippe Chatrier.

The match got underway at around 8 PM local time in Paris, which was when the Djokovic vs Musetti clash was originally supposed to start on the same court. This led to an almost three-hour delay to the Serb’s match. The 24-time Grand Slam winner eventually sealed his thrilling five-set comeback win over the Italian after 3 AM on Sunday, June 3.

“Putting Djokovic, 37, on the court at 10:30 PM (against Musetti in the third round), without knowing how long his match would last, was a huge mistake on the part of the organization. The weather was very bad, and they were in a difficult situation. I understand that they wanted to catch up, but there were other solutions to finish the other match (Bergs vs Dimitrov),” McEnroe told Le Figaro.

McEnroe went on to talk about the toll that the rescheduling of the Musetti matchup took on Djokovic. In the 65-year-old’s opinion, its effects played a part in the Serb’s medial meniscus tear in the next round against Cerundolo. He proceeded to criticize the French Open’s treatment of the Serb, opining that it was not the right way to treat a player of Djokovic’s stature.

“Novak had been bothered by his knee for a few weeks. He had to fall asleep at 7 AM and come back to play a day and a half later (against Cerundolo in the fourth round). It’s a challenge for anyone. He had to fight 5 sets again, it’s too much to ask. Even for Novak. If we can’t say for sure, it’s one of the reasons why he injured his knee. In any case, you don’t treat a player, and even less the best in the world, that way,” McEnroe added.

Coco Gauff echoed John McEnroe’s sentiments on Novak Djokovic’s damning 2024 French Open fate

BNP Paribas Open 2024 - Day 4
BNP Paribas Open 2024 – Day 4

Coco Gauff was also of the opinion that Djokovic’s withdrawal had to do with the Serb’s late-night exertions against Musetti. Gauff’s words came at a press conference following her 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Ons Jabeur in the French Open women’s singles quarterfinals.

“I think it (Djokovic’s injury and subsequent withdrawal) probably came just from the late start (against Musetti). And it was unfortunate that he had to, you know, the matches went five sets back to back. So I think it was just a combination of those two things,” Gauff said.

As it stands, only time and the pace of Djokovic’s rehabilitation following surgery will tell if the Serb can make his bid for Olympic Gold come to fruition. Meanwhile, Gauff’s French Open journey continues. The reigning US champion is slated to face World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinals on Thursday, June 6.

If she manages to come out on top against the Pole, she will contest for the title against either Jasmine Paolini or Mirra Andreeva in the final.

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