Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic has announced that he will miss the rest of the tennis season due to a nagging elbow injury. He said he aimed to return to action just before next year's Australian Open.
The 30-year-old Serbian, who was forced to retire from his Wimbledon quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych earlier this month, announced on Wednesday that he would use the rest of the year to fully recover from an elbow injury for the past 18 months.
"Wimbledon was probably the toughest tournament for me in terms of feeling the pain that has escalated," he told reporters in Belgrade. Speaking in his native Serbian at the press conference, which was broadcast live on Facebook, he also stressed that he had not taken the decision to skip the rest of this year's ATP schedule lightly.
"All the doctors I've consulted, and all the specialists I have visited, in Serbia and all over the world, have agreed that this injury requires rest," the former world No. 1 said in a statement posted on his website. "A prolonged break from the sport is inevitable."
He also said he would do anything it took to ensure a full recovery and aimed to return to action at a warm-up tournament for next year's Australian Open.
Between mid-January 2015 and June 2016, Djokovic looked almost unbeatable, winning 17 of the 22 finals he reached in 24 tournaments. However, since winning last year's French Open, which completed his career Grand Slam, Djokovic has experienced a dip in form and he has failed to claim another major title. This year, he crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round, before losing in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.
Djokovic can take heart from the experience of another former No. 1, Roger Federer. Following Wimbledon last year, the now 35-year-old Swiss took the rest of 2016 off to allow his surgically repaired left knee to fully recover. He returned at the beginning of this season to win the Australian Open - his first Grand Slam in more than five years. He went on to win at Indian Wells and Miami before skipping the European clay-court circuit. He then went on to with his eighth Wimbledon championship and his 19th major title overall – both records on the men's side.