US Open: Novak Djokovic pulls out injured against Stan Wawrinka
No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic retires early due to shoulder injury, falls to Stan Wawrinka at US Open
World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic has suddenly retired from his US Open fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic was down 6-4 7-5 2-1 on Arthur Ashe Stadium and opted to end the match rather than play it out. He received a mixed reception from the New York crowd upon leaving the court, copping some boos and jeers; to which he offered an ironic thumbs-up.
Djokovic, a 16-time major winner and triple US Open champion, was carrying a left shoulder injury but had offered little information as to its severity.
Novak Djokovic during his ill-fated US Open match against Stan Wawrinka
He received treatment on the joint during the match before offering Wawrinka a place in the quarter-finals, rounding the net to inform and hug his opponent.
“It’s never the way you want to finish a match. I’m really sorry for Novak,” Wawrinka, who beat Djokovic in the final of the 2016 US Open, told ESPN afterwards.
“He’s a good friend, an amazing champion. We’ve played amazing battles all of my career.
“I want to keep my level (from) tonight, I think I was playing super-good tennis. I’m happy to be back.”
Late in his career Wawrinka has been a thorn in the side of Djokovic, beating him in four sets in two Grand Slam finals (French Open, 2015; US Open, 2016) after dumping the Serbian star out of the 2014 Australian Open in a five set epic, coming from a break down in the deciding set to win it 9-7.
That has become arguably the defining moment of Wawrinka’s career, with his first Grand Slam title coming two matches later after he took care of Tomas Berdych in the semi and Rafael Nadal in the final.
It means he has beaten Djokovic in all three of his Slam victories, making this victory, albeit through retirement, a good omen for the Swiss as he attempts to win his second US Open title.
It was Djokovic’s sixth retirement at a Grand Slam, his first at the US Open and his first since Wimbledon 2017; his most recent Slam retirement before that was the 2009 Australian Open. He has retired from 13 matches in total across his career.
New York Times tennis writer Christopher Clarey said that criticisms of Djokovic from early in his career – namely, that he was quick to retire from matches – was no longer fair or accurate
That sentiment was backed by the Guardian and Observer’s senior tennis correspondent Kevin Mitchell who claimed that anyone who booed Djokovic off the court was either “drunk or dumb”.
Wawrinka is seeded just 23rd in New York, having battled through knee injuries in recent times. He was all but assured of victory before Djokovic opted out.
The Swiss veteran will play fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals. The winner will face either Roger Federer or Grigor Dimitrov in the semis, while Rafael Nadal looms as a potential finalist from the other side of the draw.
Wawrinka, 34, said that he had taken a long time to regain his level after knee surgeries.
“It’s been really tough since my surgery. It’s took me two years now to be back at that level,” he told the New York crowd.
“The atmosphere is always something special to play a night session.”