"You don't know what you feel anymore...the pain was constant for weeks now...some days higher, some days with less intensity...taking different stuff to kill the pain instantly...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't..."
Novak Djokovic had said disgustingly at the U.S. Open press conference after retiring in the fourth round playing Stan Wawrinka. He couldn't continue with the excruciating shoulder pain and had to give over the match to the competitive Swiss man.
Physically and emotionally, Djokovic foudn it difficult to even discuss another injury to sideline his playing momentum. He'd often adjust his cap, shake his head in frustration. This was just last month at the last slam of the season.
But the Serbian couldn't complain since he had won two of the 4 seasonal slams before the injury. The season was relatively good with Djokovic coming out at the start winning the Australian Open in three straight sets over Rafael Nadal.
Indian Wells and Miami might have geen the only bummers up to his performances this far as he would only go two and three rounds. This was just a resting time for Djokovic came back with a vengeance. He'd made it to the final at Rome, but bowed to Nadal andthen the semifinal at Roland Garros, a slugfest it was with Dominic Thiem.
Despite him not coming out with the win there after 5 sets, it seems at the end of a loss was the pot of gold and he enjoyed his win at Wimbledon over Roger Federer, a mindset accomplishment no less. But it didn't work in the Serbian's favor anymore of those rollercoaster win and loss streaks.
He had gotten to the semifinal at Cincinnati where Danii Medvedev took him down in three sets and then there was the U.S. Open. It was the fourth round and by then the shoulder pain wasn't letting up. Stan Wawrinka was riding on a win streak and lookd good at taking the round anyway.
Something had to give and Djokovic figured to cut his losses and pain by retiring before more damage was done. "It's an unfortunate situation. I have to suffer the consequences of that..." the Serbian sadly said.
But challenges are never ending for the tennis player no matter the rank or performance level. While Djokovic was rehabbing and vacationing with family, other players were facing ailments and injuries. Novak Djokovic will be returning to play in Tokyo and in fact playing doubles with a fellow Serbian Filip Krajinocic.
There will be a rest for other players that can't make Tokyo. The heavy hitters to be absent are Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and ironically Stan Wawrinka who Djokovic retired to at the Open.
The challenges the Serb will have to face may be less troublesome than his painful shoulder. He may have things in his favor this go-round and with the rehab and rest, Tokyo may be getting very interesting for not only Djokovic, but for his competitors too.