An old elbow injury unfortunately crept up on Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, just as he was regaining top form.
After a disappointing season by his lofty standards, the Serbian had been showing the grass-court prowess that brought him three Wimbledon titles. He won his first ATP World Tour title in nearly six months at the Aegon International (d. Monfils), then cruised into the quarter-finals this fortnight without losing a set.
But on Wednesday, his right elbow became too much to handle against Tomas Berdych. The second seed halted the contest after just 63 minutes, leaving him to ponder what comes next.
”It’s really hard to swallow when you have to retire, especially when you’re playing well. I was playing the best tennis I’ve played in the last 10 months or so. I felt really good on the court,” said Djokovic. “It’s just unfortunate. But in life, these particular things happen for a reason. It takes some time and thinking to understand why this happened, and to learn from it.”
Berdych Advances After Djokovic Retires
Djokovic admitted that his elbow troubles started at the beginning of the tournament. Despite his best efforts at recovery, he still played through uncomfortable moments in his first four rounds before the pain became too much to handle.
“The intensity and the level of pain was only increasing as the days went by,” admitted Djokovic. “I kept doing everything with my physiotherapist and the ATP [World Tour] physiotherapist to try and recover and get into the state where I’m actually able to perform. I was able to perform up to this stage, but it was only getting worse.
“Unfortunately, today was the worst day,” he admitted. “I was able to play for 30 minutes with some pain that was bearable. All the treatments couldn’t really help. The serve and forehand were the shots where I could feel it the most. After that, there was really no sense [in playing].”
With his elbow troubles bothering him for about 18 months, and a wide range of specialists consulted on the injury, Djokovic said he’ll likely rest for now as he puts together a recovery plan. With his current treatment program appearing to no longer be effective, the Serbian said he would consider more aggressive options.
“Obviously it’s adding up more and more. The more I play, the worse it gets. In an individual sport, there is no way out. If you don’t feel fit, that’s it. There is no one to come out instead of you,” said Djokovic. “I’m just going to talk with specialists, as I have done in the past year or so, and try to figure out a long-term solution for the best way to treat it.”