Sportsmanship Shines: Casper Ruud's Message of Support for Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic withdrew from Roland Garros before facing Casper Ruud in the QF

by Jovica Ilic
Sportsmanship Shines: Casper Ruud's Message of Support for Novak Djokovic
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic will not compete in the Roland Garros quarter-final against Casper Ruud, withdrawing from the season's second Major due to an injury. Djokovic revealed a medial meniscus tear in his right knee, ending his Roland Garros campaign and losing the title he claimed a year ago.

In a display of true sportsmanship, Ruud wished Djokovic a speedy recovery and expressed his hope to see him in action during the grass swing. Novak has been dealing with a problem in his knee for a couple of weeks. It worsened during his two most recent Roland Garros matches against Lorenzo Musetti and Francisco Cerundolo.

He won them in five sets but decided to end the campaign and try to recover for Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. Djokovic underwent an MRI on Tuesday, which confirmed a medial meniscus tear. He and his team decided to withdraw, not risking anything ahead of the upcoming notable events.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak did not like the conditions on Court Philippe-Chatrier versus Musetti, and his frustration grew two days later versus Cerundolo during another marathon.

Djokovic claimed the opener in style but fell in the second set, starting to feel the pain in his knee. World no. 1 urged the organizers to sweep the clay more frequently, which they refused. Unwilling to surrender, Novak took the painkillers and started to feel better in the fourth set, coming from the verge of defeat and causing another turnaround and a notable win.

Cerundolo played one of his best matches, controlling his strokes and using Djokovic's problems to move closer to the finish line. The Argentine claimed the second set with a late break and dominated the third, looking good to send the Serb packing.

It became almost certain when Francisco forged a 4-2 advantage in the fourth set.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Casper Ruud wished Novak Djokovic a speedy recovery after a knee injury.

However, Djokovic started to run more comfortably in the second part of the set, pulling the break back in the eighth game and defending a break point at 5-5.

Novak clinched a break in the 12th game, forcing a decider and becoming the favorite. Djokovic celebrated a massive win but stayed realistic, admitting he could skip the quarter-final duel, which eventually happened. Thus, we will not see the rematch of last year's Roland Garros final between Djokovic and Ruud.

Novak scored a 7-6, 6-3, 7-5 win on Court Philippe-Chatrier, becoming the first player with 23 Major titles and leaving Rafael Nadal on 22. The Norwegian fought in his second consecutive Roland Garros final, giving everything but finishing runner-up.

Novak got broken once in the opener and stole Casper's serve three times, controlling the pace and emerging at the top.

Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

The Serb recovered from an early setback and produced 16 consecutive holds, applying constant pressure on his rival and sealing the deal in straight sets.

Novak claimed his sixth tie break of the tournament in the first set and controlled everything in the second, dropping five points in his games and delivering an early break that kept him in front. They stayed neck and neck in the third set until Djokovic clinched a late break that carried him toward the title.

Novak grabbed 12 of the final 13 points, moving over the top and writing tennis history. It was Djokovic's sixth win from as many duels against Ruud, and the Norwegian turned the tables in Monte Carlo two months ago. Novak and Casper battled in the semi-final, and the Norwegian scored a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 victory, beating the Serb for the first time and notching his first top-3 triumph!

Djokovic grabbed 11 points more than Ruud, thanks to the second set.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

However, he dropped the pivotal ones and ended another campaign without reaching the final.

Both players scored four breaks, and Casper prevailed with a late one in the final set. Ruud kicked off the action with an early break after a forehand winner. He moved 3-1 in front after deuces in game four and made another push on the return in the next one.

Novak sprayed another forehand error, getting broken for the second time and falling 4-1 behind. Djokovic pulled one break back in game six before Ruud landed an ace two games later for a 5-3 advantage. Casper served for the set in game ten and produced a fine hold for 6-4 after 50 minutes.

Novak struggled to find the first serve in the second set, but it did not bother him. World no. 1 avoided break points and kept the pressure on the other side after raising his level.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Ruud lost serve in the second game after a loose forehand before Djokovic held at love in the next one for 3-0.

Casper hit three double faults in the sixth game, experiencing the second break and pushing Novak 5-1 in front. Novak fired a service winner in the seventh game, wrapping up the set 6-1 and gathering a boost ahead of the decider after an hour and 28 minutes.

Ruud stayed composed and created a break chance in the second game of the final set with a backhand down the line winner. He converted it after Djokovic's forehand error and produced fine holds in games three and five for 4-1.

World no. 1 climbed back and grabbed three straight games, locking the result at 4-4 and adding more drama. Still, Novak hit a double fault while serving to stay in the match at 4-5, propelling Casper over the top and experiencing his first loss against the Norwegian.

Casper Ruud Novak Djokovic Roland Garros