Novak Djokovic drops worrisome bombshell, rips French Open

Djokovic addresses his right knee injury after surviving the Francisco Cerundolo test in the French Open round-of-16.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic drops worrisome bombshell, rips French Open
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Novak Djokovic has issued a very worrisome statement following his French Open round-of-16 win over Francisco Cerundolo as the defending champion might be forced to withdraw from his quarterfinal match due to a right knee issue.

On Monday, top-seeded Djokovic appeared to be heading toward a likely four-set defeat when he managed to recover from a break down in the fourth set and escape with a 6-1 5-7 3-6 7-5 6-3 win over No. 23 seed Cerundolo. 

While Djokovic got off to a great start versus Cerundolo, problems occurred for the Serb at the start of the second set when he had to have an intervention on his right knee. During the treatment, Djokovic was heard telling the physio that he "screwed up" his knee. 

In the second and third sets - the sets that Djokovic lost - his movement was hampered and he did look like he was struggling with the injury. Then in the fifth set, the 37-year-old took a tumble and slipped on the court.

In the end, Djokovic managed to overcome the Cerundolo test and set up a French Open quarterfinal versus Casper Ruud. However, Djokovic's French Open may still be finished as the Serb will determine his next steps after having an MRI on Tuesday. 

“Good thing about the slam is that you have a day between that will allow hopefully the healing process to happen more efficiently for me,” Djokovic said.

“That’s it. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow — or after tomorrow, if I’ll be able to step out on the court and play. You know, I hope so. Let’s see what happens.”

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Djokovic on thinking about retiring versus Cerundolo

After Cerundolo went up two sets to one, Djokovic requested to be given more painkillers. Ultimately, that move proved to be the right one since it relieved some of the pain and discomfort Djokovic was feeling at the time. 

But before the record 24-time Grand Slam champion started to feel better, he seriously contemplated walking up to the net and shaking Cerundolo's hand. 

"At one point I didn’t know, to be honest, whether I should continue or not with what’s happening. I got medications and then after the third set was done, I asked for more medications and I got them," Djokovic said.

"That was the maximum dose that kicked in, as I heard now from the doctor after 30 to 45 minutes, which was just about the end of the fourth when things started to really improve for me. I started to feel less limitations in my movement. Basically, the whole fifth set was almost without any pain, which is great, you know. But then the effect of the medications will not last for too long, so I’ll see."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

Down by two sets to one, Djokovic also found himself down by a break when Cerundolo opened a 4-2 fourth-set lead. But just when it seemed that Djokovic was done, he responded with breaks in the eighth and 12th games to overturn the deficit and force a decider.

Then in the fifth set, Djokovic blew an early break but broke Cerundolo again in the eighth game before serving out for the match in the following game.

Djokovic on why he was mad at groundsman and supervisor

After slipping on the surface early in the fifth set, Djokovic made it clear that he wasn't happy with the surface condition and those responsible for it. 

“Well done, supervisor and everybody. Not slippery at all," Djokovic was heard saying sarcastically.

During his conversation with the tournament supervisor, Djokovic tried to explain "as a player" that the surface wasn't in the best condition. But the supervisor didn't agree with that. 

In his post-match press conference, Djokovic said he may have survived his round-of-16 match but warned that the big damage may have already been done.

“I’m just trying to understand: If a player is feeling a certain way, what else do we need to wait for, for that to happen? I mean, today I injured myself. Yes, I survived. I won the match. Great. But will I be able to play next one?” Djokovic explained.

“I don’t know. I don’t know the severity of the injury. But could have this injury be prevented? Possibly, if there was just a little bit more of a frequent care of the court during the set.”

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

If Djokovic plays his quarterfinal match, fans will have a chance to see a rematch of the 2023 French Open final between the Serb and Ruud. 

Novak Djokovic French Open Francisco Cerundolo