Novak Djokovic has admitted he had no choice but to take the rest of 2017 off as he tries to recover from an elbow injury.
The 30-year-old’s decision means he will miss the final grand slam of the year, the US Open, an event he has won twice. World No 4 Djokovic was forced to retire midway through his Wimbledon quarter-final with Tomas Berdych earlier this month because of the problem.
After the match, he said he had been feeling pain in his right elbow for over a year and half and the 12-time major champion has now opted to take the rest of the year off.
“I have made the decision to not play any tournaments for the rest of the 2017 season,” Djokovic said. “Unfortunately, this is the decision that had to be made at this moment. Wimbledon was the toughest tournament for me in terms of feeling the pain that has escalated.
“I have consulted doctors and specialists and various people from the medicine [profession] in the last 12 to 15 months, and especially the last couple of months when I felt the injury was getting worse.
“They all agree I need rest, I need time. This is one of those injuries where nothing can really help instantly. You have to allow natural rehabilitation to take its course.”
Missing the US Open next month will end Djokovic’s run of 51 consecutive grand slam appearances, but the Serbian has been well below his best in the past year.
After winning four consecutive major tournaments, Djokovic has now gone further than the quarter-finals only once in his last five.
He began working with eight-time grand slam champion Andre Agassi at the French Open in May and has confirmed the American will stay on his coaching team when he returns in 2018.
“I am looking forward to be honest to building my body, my game and my team as well,” Djokovic said.
“I am happy to share that Andre Agassi is committed to staying with me next year.”
Djokovic may have drawn encouragement from Roger Federer, who missed the second half of 2016 to recover from injury before coming back to win the Australian Open and his 19th grand slam title at Wimbledon.
Coincidentally, Federer announced his decision to take an extended break on the same day of last year.
“I have time to dedicate to healing myself, to building up my body and my strength and focusing on certain aspects of my game I never had time to work on,” Djokovic added. “Now I have time to perfect it and build the foundation for the next five years or more. God knows I really want to play professional tennis for many years to come.”
Meanwhile, British No 3 Aljaz Bedene eased into the last 16 of the German Tennis Championships with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over the Dominican Republic’s Jose Hernandez-Fernandez.
The Slovenia-born 28-year-old broke the lucky loser twice in the first set and then twice in the second to secure a convincing triumph within 69 minutes in Hamburg.
Next up for world No 46 Bedene is Russia’s Karen Khachanov, who overcame Germany’s Rudolf Molleker 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.