Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic follows Rafael Nadal by pulling out of the Madrid Open

Novak Djokovic has joined his ‘biggest rival’ Rafael Nadal by withdrawing from the Madrid Open, with fans concerned about the Serb’s fitness heading into Roland Garros.

Djokovic returned to the ATP tour in Monte Carlo to begin his clay season, however his first two tournaments have not gone to plan with the 22-time Grand Slam champion losing as many matches as he has won.

The 35-year-old has had his elbow strapped that he had surgery on back in 2018, and while there has been no confirmation as to why Djokovic has withdrawn from Madrid fans have speculated this to be the reason.

“My elbow is not in an ideal shape but good enough to be ready for the first match,” said Djokovic before playing in Banja Luka.

Djokovic was not much more positive about his form and fitness after losing to Dusan Lajovic in the quarter-final, “My legs were slow and my footwork was torpid, many missed shots, totally without direction.”

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion joins Nadal and a long list of other players to withdraw from the Spanish Masters 1000 event including Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic.

Nadal has not featured on the ATP tour since January, where he suffered a grade two tear to his iliopsoas and he revealed earlier in the week that it has not recovered in the way that he was hoping.

“As you know I suffered an important injury in Australia of the psoas [muscle],” said Nadal. “Initially it had to be a six to eight week recovery period and we are now on fourteen. The reality is that the situation is not what we would have expected.”

Nadal added, “The weeks are passing and I had the illusion of being able to play in tournaments that are the most important in my career such as Monte Carlo, Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros and for the moment I have missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona. I will not be able to be in Madrid unfortunately.”

Both Djokovic and Nadal are now only scheduled to play in Rome before they head to Paris for the second major of the year.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s history at the Madrid Open

While many say that the clay in Madrid is quite different to the clay of Roland Garros, both Djokovic and Nadal have still found success in the Spanish capital over the years.

Novak Djokovic’s titles in Madrid: 2011, 2016, 2019

Rafael Nadal’s titles in Madrid: 2005 (Hard Court), 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal in Madrid: 1-2

2009 – Nadal beat Djokovic, 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(9) (Semi-final)

2011 – Djokovic beat Nadal, 7-5 6-4 (Final)

2017 – Nadal beat Djokovic, 6-2 6-4 (Semi-final)

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.