Novak Djokovic's knee injury and withdrawal from the French Open: What this implies

The news that Novak Djokovic had withdrawn from the French Open on account of a torn meniscus was certainly one of those moments at Roland Garros that made you groan loudly.

It wasn't an enormous surprise, as Djokovic said he wasn't sure he would play his quarterfinal after sustaining the injury in a fourth-round win over Francisco Cerundolo, but it surely's still huge to lose the world primary and defending champion in this manner.

But what impact does Djokovic’s withdrawal have – for him, for the event and for sport generally?

What it means for Novak Djokovic

What injury does Djokovic have?

Djokovic withdrew from the French Open on Tuesday on account of a tear within the medial meniscus of his right knee. The meniscus is a semicircle of cartilage positioned on the within the knee joint. It is a particularly common injury amongst lively adults, especially middle-aged men, and it may cause various degrees of pain.

In tennis players, especially those with a protracted profession, a tear is more more likely to be a slow degeneration that gets worse than a sudden, acute tear. Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are among the many players who’ve had surgery for a torn meniscus of their mid-30s in recent times, although Federer's was an unusual injury when he was running the bathtub for his children.

Surgery isn’t all the time essential for recovery. Some people avoid surgery – which may cause long-term complications akin to scarring and arthritis – and get better with the assistance of physical therapy by increase the muscles across the knee. Whether that is an option may rely on the severity of the tear, and even when it isn't, the kind of surgery also depends upon the severity of the injury, whether it’s acute or has developed over a protracted time period.

Djokovic played against Francisco Cerundolo despite his injury (Bertrand Guay / AFP via Getty Images)

American tennis player Taylor Fritz, ranked no 1, played at Wimbledon 23 days after undergoing meniscus surgery. The surgery was performed using a debridement, which involves removing the damaged section of the meniscus. If Djokovic's injury is just too severe for that, a full repair with stitches will probably be required, which might extend the recovery time to months.

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Novak Djokovic withdraws from French Open on account of knee injury

What do Djokovic and his team say about his injury?

Not much. The team was still processing the diagnosis and the proven fact that Djokovic couldn’t proceed defending his title on Tuesday evening, and there was no immediate decision on whether he would undergo surgery.

Anger stays over the tournament organizers' decision to not heed Djokovic's warnings that the courts had turn into dangerously slippery on account of persistent rain last week and the sudden change to dry conditions on Saturday night and Monday afternoon when he played.

About an hour after the tournament announced his withdrawal, Djokovic confirmed the character of the injury on Instagram, adding: “My team and I had to make a difficult decision after careful consideration and consultation.”

When will Djokovic return to tennis?

It's too early to say. Meniscus tears can vary in severity. It goes without saying that when Djokovic competes at Wimbledon on July 1, he probably won't be as strong as he has been over the past decade, when he cemented his position as the perfect grass-court player on the planet.

After Wimbledon, the tennis world's attention will turn to the Olympic Games at the tip of July, where Djokovic is keen to win his first gold medal.

What this implies for the French Open

What does this mean for the French Open draw?

Djokovic's withdrawal leaves the highest half of the draw wide open. Casper Ruud, the runner-up for the past two years, has a bye into the semifinals, where he’ll face the winner of the quarterfinal between Alexander Zverev and Alex de Minaur. Zverev is looking to achieve his fourth consecutive semifinal at Roland Garros, while de Minaur has never made it past the second round here until this yr.

What does this mean for tennis generally?

Whatever happens, there will probably be a brand new winner of this event for the primary time since 2016, when Djokovic won his first title. Djokovic's withdrawal also extends his difficult begin to the yr, during which he has yet to achieve a final. It is the primary time since 2018 that he has competed in each of the yr's first two Grand Slams and won neither.

This also means a brand new no 1 within the ATP Tour world rankings: Jannik Sinner is guaranteed to take this place on Monday, June 10, thus reaching this milestone for the primary time in his profession.

Djokovic's rating position could fall even further. He has 1,200 points to defend at Wimbledon, 1,000 at Cincinnati and a pair of,000 on the US Open, for a complete of 4,200. If he’s unable to compete in those tournaments, he’ll lose all his points from those tournaments (along with the 1,600 points he’ll lose on Monday after his relatively early exit here) and his rating would drop to around eighth on the planet.

It would then only be a matter of time before he could even reach the ATP Finals in November for the eight best players of the yr, and he can be heading for his worst year-end rating since he finished just outside the highest 10 in 2017 after an injury-plagued season.

Casper Ruud, who lost twice in the ultimate, is now directly within the semifinals (Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP via Getty Images)

What does this mean for the organizers of the French Open?

Djokovic’s withdrawal is a nightmare for the French Tennis Federation (FFT).

He blamed the tournament and the “very slippery” court for his injury on Monday and said his team would speak to the relevant event staff. The strong mood within the Djokovic camp was still there on Tuesday.

Djokovic's exit also dramatically increases Zverev's probabilities of being crowned champion on Sunday. Zverev, the No. 4 seed, is defending himself in a court hearing in Berlin against allegations that he abused an ex-girlfriend during an argument in 2020.

In October, the Berlin Criminal Court issued a penalty order and fined him 450,000 euros ($489,000; £384,000) in reference to allegations made by Brenda Patea, a model and social media star who’s the mother of his daughter. Zverev denies the fees. In Germany, a prosecutor can apply for a penalty order in cases they consider to be straightforward because there may be compelling evidence that ensures no trial is essential.

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The defendant has the suitable to appeal the choice, which Zverev has done. The trial began in Berlin on Friday, which Zverev was not required to attend. It continued on Monday with Patea's testimony behind closed doors and can proceed on several non-consecutive dates this month and next.

Unlike other league sports, the ATP Tour and tennis generally don’t have any formal domestic violence policies. If Zverev were to win certainly one of the game's biggest prizes, it will be a hugely uncomfortable situation for the tournament and the game as a complete.

What do the players think?

Removing a quarterfinal from the schedule doesn't really help anyone. For Ruud himself, it means three days off, potentially disrupting his rhythm, and for spectators with day tickets for Wednesday, it means missing a singles match. For Zverev and de Minaur, whoever faces Ruud could feel at a drawback. A withdrawal at this stage of the tournament – just like Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from the 2022 Wimbledon semifinals – immediately raises questions on sporting integrity.

An answer can be for Cerundolo, the person Djokovic defeated, is ready to be reinstated. The “lucky loser” already exists in tennis: players who lose in qualifying before the important draw begins can stay on the tournament venue and still participate within the event if a player withdraws in the primary round.

This concept was not applied within the actual tournaments. When semi-finalist Sinner was asked about this possibility, he made the argument most frequently utilized in the opposition: “He's already lost, hasn't he?”

Although the reinstatement of the twenty third place would mean a spectator match and it will be hard to argue that Cerundolo wouldn’t be a deserving winner if he were to beat three top players, it isn’t an ideal solution. Djokovic beat him fair and square despite his injury and secured the rating points and prize money. In tennis, these are the lucky moments.

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