Ex-Slam finalist fires stern warning to Novak Djokovic's rivals after Serb's surgery

Greg Rusedski shares his thoughts on Djokovic having knee surgery and his future chances.

by Dzevad Mesic
Ex-Slam finalist fires stern warning to Novak Djokovic's rivals after Serb's surgery
© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter

1997 US Open runner-up Greg Rusedski believes Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are definitely the "rivalry for the future" but warns that record 24-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic just cannot be written off or taken for granted.

After Djokovic's dominance in 2023, the 2024 season has brought something different as the 37-year-old Serb didn't any titles in the first half of 2024 before sustaining a knee injury. Meanwhile, Sinner - the new world No.

1 - has been absolutely outstanding as he is 33-3 this year after becoming a Grand Slam champion at this year's Australian Open. Alcaraz, who struggled a bit early in the season, managed to defend his Indian Wells Masters title in March and he also won his first French Open title this year.

After the French Open - in which Alcaraz defeated Sinner in the semifinal before beating Alexander Zverev in the final - the Italian became the new world No. 1 while the Spaniard improved to No. 2 in the world. Meanwhile, Djokovic - who had surgery in Paris after tearing his knee meniscus - is now third on the rankings.

Before Djokovic suffered a knee injury, some were already pushing the talks that the 37-year-old was done. Now that Djokovic is dealing with a knee surgery recovery, some are wondering how will the Serb look when he returns and if he will be able to rediscover his old level.

In former world No. 4 Rusedski's mind, one thing is clear - don't underestimate Djokovic. “I think it’s [Sinner vs Alcaraz] going to be the rivalry for the future. They’re one and two in the world, Sinner’s No 1 – but don’t discount Novak Djokovic," Rusedski told Tennis365.

“A meniscus tear, I had one myself this year and I’m older, so it took me a while to get over it, but he might be back in time for the Olympics and I hear he’s super hungry, he wants to play for a few more years.

“Don’t discount Novak – let’s not forget that last year he won three of the four majors and was in the final of Wimbledon. I know a lot of people have been saying he’s slowing down, this and that.

He’s human and I think he’s going to be back with a vengeance, so don’t discount him”.

Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner © Getty Images Sport - Daniel Pockett

Rusedski thinks winning the Paris Olympics would instantly make Djokovic's season a success

By winning three Grand Slams last year, Djokovic surpassed Rafael Nadal and became the first-ever man with 24 Grand Slams.

In his record, Djokovic owns the two biggest records - the all-time Slam record and he also holds the record for the most weeks spent at No. 1 in the world. But one thing Djokovic is missing - an Olympic gold medal. Since shockingly blowing a big lead in the Tokyo Olympics semifinal versus Zverev, Djokovic has said numerous times over the last couple of years that the Paris Olympics would be one of the biggest goals for him in the remainder of his career.

Giving his take on Djokovic's current situation, Rusedski says if the Serb is able to play at the Olympics and achieve his goal there, that would instantly make his 2024 season a success. "Well, I don’t think he’s really worried about the No.

1 so much, because that record he has at No. 1 in the men’s game, I don’t think it will be broken. For him, if he won Olympic gold this year, he would have done everything he wanted this year and he’ll get ready for the majors next year," Rusedski explained.

“Once he’s 100% fit – I’m pretty sure he won’t be at Wimbledon, but he might sneak the Olympics – though he won’t risk it if he’s not healthy. I think he’ll be back at the US Open with a bang, ready to go.

Don’t discount him”.

Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Leon Neal

Djokovic's warning for his competition

After it was reported that Djokovic had a successful arthroscopic knee surgery, it was also revealed that the 37-year-old Serb may recover in as early as three weeks.

A day after his surgery, Djokovic decided to drop a message on his social media, in which he warned his rivals that he would try to be back "as soon as possible" and that there was "the desire to keep competing at the highest level." "I’m going to do my best to be healthy and fit to return to the court as soon as possible.

My love for this sport is strong and the desire to compete at the highest level is what keeps me going," Djokovic wrote on Instagram.

Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Elsa

Wimbledon is starting on July 1st and more things about Djokovic's comeback plans should be known in the next couple of days.

Novak Djokovic Greg Rusedski