Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2024

Novak Djokovic injury a bitter blow and could cost him Olympic dream

An elite professional athlete getting injured in the most physically intense tournament of the season shouldn’t surprise anyone. The fact that it has with Novak Djokovic is testament to just how special it is.

It is, therefore, strange how many stories have cropped up over the last 24 hours suggesting the Serbian could be facing the end of his career.

Granted, it takes a lot to force Djokovic out of a major. That was evidenced by the fact that even after suffering the tear in his medial meniscus against Francisco Cerúndolo, Djokovic was able to win a five-set marathon.

It wasn’t the first time he had seemingly defied medical science on a tennis court either. He won an Australian Open with an abdominal tear and he was exceptionally good value for it. By the stage he had his hands on the trophy, no one was even shocked.

And yet, things do feel a little different this time around. Perhaps that’s because Djokovic is feeling a little different too. By his own admission, he is struggling for motivation outside of the biggest tournaments, and despite his obvious ability to raise his game for the majors, it has shown.

He travelled to Paris still awaiting his first final of the season, never mind title, which was practically unheard of. He suffered a shock defeat to the world 123 Luca Nardi in Indian Wells. Again, the kind of defeat that just doesn’t happen when you’re Novak Djokovic.

Even at Roland Garros itself, the win over Cerúndolo was his second five-set win before the quarterfinals. His old level was still there, but the consistency was well short of what we have come to expect.

So where does all this leave Djokovic? Well, not in a very good position in the short term. The recovery time for a medial meniscus tear is usually at least a month. That means he is unlikely to play Wimbledon.

That will rankle, but he will be able to live with it. What will really worry him, though, is the Olympics. Paris 2024 starts in just seven weeks and he has made no secret of the fact an Olympic gold medal is a perhaps the only remaining major career goal he is left to achieve. This summer feels like his final chance to do it.


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And, in truth, no matter your feelings on Djokovic, he undoubtedly deserves it. His career is, statistically, the greatest in the history of tennis and, like all greats, you want to see him finish on his terms.

That finish does now feel within sight too. Like Roger Federer, Djokovic has always given the impression that he is somehow immune from time. Recently, though, that has just started to slip a little and there are clues he is starting to consider hanging up the racket.

His much-reduced schedule is one tell-tale sign. Djokovic has achieved nearly everything he set out to and has nothing left to prove. He is also a father with a young family, and understandably wants to spend time with them. His team has also been allowed to disintegrate around him. In the last 17 months, five of them have left. This year alone he has lost two, including his coach Goran Ivanisevic.

Age is a factor as well, of course. Novak Djokovic is 37-years-old now. In another era he would already be long-finished, but with him already largely achieving all he set out to do, what does he have to gain from prolonging a career? If he retired tomorrow, he would do so with numbers and achievements that are unlikely to ever be broken. Does he really need to extend them a little more?

It’s ultimately tough to know what is going through his head. What we can say for sure, though, is that a medial meniscus tear for a 37-year-old athlete, even an elite one, is not a good thing. There are some similarities to when Federer suffered a similar problem, announced he’d be having keyhole surgery to correct it, and then never really came back.

I hope that’s not the case with Djokovic. The rise of Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner has been momentous in men’s tennis and has guaranteed the future of the sport at the elite level, but nothing validates any success they might have like having to beat Djokovic along the way.

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.