Djokovic retires hurt as Argentina set up Spain final
Originally published on: 19/09/11 08:59
Novak Djokovic retired midway through the fourth rubber during Serbia’s Davis Cup semi-final with Argentina to hand the visitors a place in the final against Spain.
The US Open champion did not play in his side’s opening singles rubber after struggling with back pain, but elected to face Juan Martin del Potro after seeing his side fall 2-1 behind.
But after dropping the first set on a tiebreak and falling 3-0 behind in the second, Djokovic – after running for a wide forehand – released his racket and collapsed to his knees in pain.
Helped to his feet by his teammates, Djokovic retired, hugged Del Potro and then buried his head in the towel as his withdrawal handed Argentina victory.
“I feel very disappointed to end the tie in this way,” said the 24 year old. “I tried although I was only 60% fit and I went into the match knowing there was a risk of aggravating the injury which I first felt at the US Open.
“We knew my condition was not good but we believed that even so I would have a better chance against Del Potro than my team-mate Viktor Troicki would. At the end of the day it was my decision and it backfired.
“I am not saying I would have won if I had been 100% fit because Del Potro played at a very high level and never in my professional career did I struggle with my return of serve as I did here.”
With the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on the horizon as Djokovic looks to put the finishing touches to a stunning year in London, the Serb added:
“The important thing now is to determine the extent of my injury and how long it will take me to recover, I was able to battle through the pain in New York but not here.”
The result sees Argentina reach their fourth Davis Cup final, and their first since 2008. “It’s very difficult to speak, to say something. We are very, very happy to go through and hopefully we are ready for the final.”
Tito Vasquez’s men will face Spain, who defeated them three years ago in the final, on December 2 after Rafael Nadal won the decisive rubber for Albert Costa’s side in a 4-1 triumph over France.
Unlike Djokovic, the Mallorcan showed no ill-effects from reaching the US Open final last week, defeating Richard Gasquet for the loss of just four games in the opening rubber before clinching the tie with a 6-0 6-2 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I think I played well. I didn’t have mistakes. I played very solid from the baseline. I was really solid with myself and that gives me a lot of confidence,” said Nadal, while team captain Costa added of his star man:
“When he plays good on clay he’s unbeatable.”