Novak Djokovic struggled a lot in his early years on the Tour, calling for medical timeouts and accumulating a couple of retirements. Djokovic could not stay on the court for an entire match against Roger Federer in Monte Carlo 2008, and he retired at the Australian Open next January versus Andy Roddick.
Thus, Novak failed to defend the Melbourne crown claimed a year ago. After a couple of exhausting encounters, he did not feel well, leaving the court while Andy led 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 after two and a half hours. Roddick lost the opening set, but there was nothing wrong with his game, hitting 43 winners and 14 unforced errors to keep the pressure on the defending champion.
Novak claimed the opener and struggled after that, thinking about retirement in the second set's closing stages but enduring and playing until 1-2 in the fourth. Djokovic stayed on the court until 2:30 am against Marcos Baghdatis two days earlier and did not practice before facing Roddick.
He wanted to compete during the night session, but the organizers refused and put him under boiling sun and high temperatures. There were no breaks in the first set, and Novak claimed the opening four points of the tie break with forehand winners.
Djokovic placed a volley winner at the net at 4-2 and clinched the set with another mighty forehand at 6-3. Andy grabbed the first break at 3-3 in set number two with a smash winner and landed a service winner at 5-4 to wrap up the set and gain a boost.
Struggling more and more physically, Djokovic lost serve at the beginning of the third set. Roddick placed a perfect forehand down the line winner before getting broken in the next one.
Novak Djokovic retired against Andy Roddick in Melbourne 2009.
Andy broke again at 2-2 after forcing Novak's error and held for 4-2 with another ace down the T line.
Djokovic fell 5-2 behind after hitting a double fault and allowed Roddick to wrap up the set with a service winner in the next one. The Serb saved four break points at the start of the fourth set and fired a backhand down the line winner to avoid an early setback.
Still, he lost serve at love at 1-1 and decided to end his misery and retire. "The main reason for my retiring is cramping and soreness in my entire body. I struggled with my movement; that was evident. From the third set, I could not serve as in the previous part of the match, and the speed went down by 20 or 30 km/h, making it easier for Andy to return.
Also, he used the more extended rallies wisely, as I struggled in those. I tried my best, but sometimes you can not fight against your body. It's an unfortunate Australian Open ending for me. I had retirements in the past, but they always came with a reason: I could not play anymore.
I finished my previous match at 2:30 am and went to bed at 6:00 am, with insufficient time to recover and no practice session yesterday. Those were challenging circumstances, and the conditions were extreme today. I felt bad already at the end of the second set, but I wanted to give my best and at least try.
I did request to play at night, but the organizers refused that. I have to turn the page and look into the future," Novak Djokovic said.