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Novak Djokovic pulls out of French Open due to knee injury: What does it mean for his Wimbledon hopes?

Novak Djokovic has torn the meniscus in his right knee; the world No 1 needed medical attention during his five-set win over Francisco Cerundolo on Tuesday; Djokovic was due to play Casper Rudd in the quarter-finals on Wednesday

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Annabel Croft assesses what Novak Djokovic's withdrawal from the French Open could mean for the rest of his season

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the French Open ahead of his quarter-final match due to a knee injury.

Top seed and defending champion Djokovic was scheduled to play Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. Norwegian seventh seed Ruud will therefore progress straight to the semi-finals.

Djokovic's withdrawal ends his quest for a record-extending 25th Grand Slam trophy and will result in him losing the world No 1 ranking to Italian Jannik Sinner later this month.

In a statement released on Instagram, Djokovic said: "I am really sad to announce that I have to withdraw from Roland Garros.

"I played with my heart and gave my all in yesterday's match and unfortunately, due to a medial meniscus tear in my right knee, my team and I had to make a tough decision after careful consideration and consultation.

"I wish the best of luck to the players competing this week and sincerely thank the incredible fans for all of the love and continued support."

It is unclear how long the injury will keep Djokovic out of action and whether the Serb will be fit for Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.

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Djokovic had been dealing with a knee injury for weeks and needed anti-inflammatory tablets during Monday's second set of his five-set victory over Francisco Cerundolo.

The 37-year-old slipped on the court and began grimacing and rubbing his right knee before receiving medical attention several times, telling the physio: "I screwed up my knee. I'm slipping and sliding all the time."

Four games later, having asked for the court to be swept, he complained to a tournament supervisor about the state of the surface, saying: "I'm telling you as a player, it's not OK."

After the game, Djokovic said: "For the last couple weeks I have had slight discomfort, I would call it, in the right knee, but I haven't had an injury that would be concerning me at all. I was playing a few tournaments with it, and had no issues until today.

"Of course, [the] late finish from a few nights ago didn't help the sleeping, the biorhythm, and recovery. But I actually felt great coming into the match - as good as I could under the circumstances - and played really well first set. Then in the third game of the second set, I slipped, one of the many times that I slipped and fell today. That affected the knee."

There has been mixed reports as to whether Djokovic has undergone surgery on his knee, French newspaper L'Equipe reporting that Djokovic underwent surgery on Wednesday Paris, while the Serbian Olympic committee president tweeted that he spoke to Djokovic's uncle who says he actually has not had surgery.

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Sky Sports Tennis' Jonathan Overend has the latest news on Novak Djokovic's injury and his chances of playing at Wimbledon.

On the conflicting reports, Sky Sports Tennis' Jonathan Overend said: "We wait for confirmation from the man himself but whether he has undergone surgery or not, it is clear he is going to be out of the game for a good few weeks.

"It has to put his participation at Wimbledon in serious doubt.

"I think there is a chance that, even if he has not had surgery, he won't play Wimbledon. You have to remember, this is the toughest time of the year for tennis players.

"They go from clay to grass and it is a short turnaround. Djokovic has won the tournament seven times but his priority this year is the Olympic Games."

Henman: Djokovic withdrawal 'hugely disappointing'

Djokovic revealed after his last-16 victory he was unsure whether he would be able to continue at the tournament, although Sky Sports analyst Tim Henman was surprised that he was unable to return for his quarter-final.

"We've seen in Australia a couple of times with the pulled stomach muscle that he kept talking about, but he kept playing and went on to win the tournament," Henman told Eurosport. "He had a problem with his hamstring there and he kept playing. So for me, I just felt this like was precautionary.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during the 2nd round of Roland Garros 2024 match between Novak Djokovic of Serbia vs Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain on May 30, 2024, at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, France. (Photo by Glenn Gervot/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Image: Djokovic had been favourite to win a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title

"I very much expected him to bounce back, as we've seen so many times. It came as a huge shock to me. When you hear that there may be a tear in the meniscus - that's a serious injury so that's hugely disappointing for Djokovic."

On the challenges of tournament scheduling, Henman added: "When some of these matches are finishing at two o'clock, three o'clock in the morning, it's not good for the players and it's not good for everyone. The scheduling is absolutely critical.

"When you take into account he [Djokovic] has played two matches and has played over nine hours of tennis, and when you add to that very late into the night, into the following morning, I think that's putting an enormous strain on players physically and mentally."

Will Djokovic be fit for Wimbledon?

Wimbledon takes place between July 1 and July 14, where Djokovic lost in five sets to Carlos Alcaraz in last year's final.

Boris Becker, Eurosport pundit and Djokovic's former coach, fears for his chances of competing at Wimbledon, where he is a seven-time champion.

Novak Djokovic of Sebia rubs his knee on his way to defeating Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina in their fourth round match during day nine of the 2024 French Open at Roland Garros on June 03, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Image: Novak Djokovic will lose his status as world No 1 after withdrawing from the French Open

Becker said: "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."

Looking ahead to the rest of Djokovic's summer, Sky Sports' Annabel Croft said: "Only time will tell, and of course he was very keen to try and play in the Olympics. That's something that he wants desperately, is that gold medal, so I think a lot of his year was kind of geared up towards focusing on that in a very, very big goal for him.

"I guess he's going to have further investigation, tests and a lot of treatments to see what he can do. He has done some extraordinary things with his body when he's had injury problems in the past. He's used oxygen therapy to try to sort of take down swelling and to reduce injuries.

"Knowing the character that he is and how professional he is, he will leave no stone unturned and he will look into absolutely the best advice, the best treatments, the best physios, the best everything that he possibly can to get himself fit, ready and back on the court again."

What's coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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  • Rosmalen Open (ATP/WTA 250) - June 10-16

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