Two-time champion Novak Djokovic will miss his first US Open in 13 years after announcing he needs time to rehab a right elbow injury.
The former world No. 1 said he will miss the remainder of the 2017 season but hopes to be ready in time for the 2018 campaign. The elbow injury is the same injury that forced him out of Wimbledon earlier this month.
Reports of Djokovic potentially missing the US Open began surfacing earlier this week, with news reports citing a Tennis Federation of Serbia doctor who said he must rest for six to 12 weeks. The doctor said the injury was a bone bruise as a result of excessive play and that Djokovic was hoping to avoid surgery, according to Tennis.com.
Those reports were confirmed by the 12-time Grand Slam champion during a Facebook Live video on his Facebook page from Belgrade, Serbia, around 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday morning.
"Just wanted to share the news with you after obviously a year-and-a-half of carrying the injury of the elbow that has culminated in the last couple of months, I have made the decision to not play any competition, any tournaments, the rest of the 2017 season," Djokovic said during the six-minute video. "Unfortunately, this is the decision that had to be made at this moment. Wimbledon was probably the toughest tournament for me for feeling the pain that has escalated.
"I have consulted many of the doctors and specialists and various people from both ends of the medicine in the last 12 to 15 months and especially in the last couple of months when I felt the injury was getting worse. They all agreed that I need rest, that I need time. This is one of those injuries where nothing can really help instantly. You just have to allow nature, natural rehabilitation, to take its course. Professionally, this is not an easy decision for me, but I’m trying to look from the positive side of everything."
Djokovic, who said he will not pick up a racquet for the next two months, said he hopes to play for at least another five years once he returns.
The 30-year-old, who said Wednesday during the announcement that Andre Agassi was committed to being a part of his team in 2018, last played at Wimbledon two weeks ago, retiring early in the second set of his quarterfinal match with Tomas Berdych. Djokovic said at the time that he had been feeling pain in his elbow for more than 18 months. His exit in southwest London was just his second retirement in the past five years.
On Monday, Djokovic will fall out of the Top 4 for the first time since July 2, 2007. On that date more than 10 years ago, Djokovic slipped to fifth behind Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, newly minted Hall of Famer Andy Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko.
Djokovic’s longevity has rivaled his excellence as the calling cards of his professional career. Since making his Grand Slam debut at the 2005 Australian Open, the Serb had appeared in 51 consecutive majors.
Even more remarkable was his annual dominance in New York, where the 2011 and 2015 winner reached 10 consecutive semifinals (from 2007-16) and six championship matches in seven years (2010-16).
What his absence means for next month’s US Open is that defending champion and current world No. 5 Stan Wawrinka is all but assured of being one of the top four seeds. This means he wouldn’t meet one of the other top three players in the world – Andy Murray, Nadal or Federer – until the semifinals at the earliest, instead of potentially in the quarterfinals as a No. 5 seed would.