Tennis: Novak Djokovic says personal woes led to Wimbledon shock

Novak Djokovic reacts while playing Sam Querrey during their Wimbledon men's singles third round match on July 2.
Novak Djokovic reacts while playing Sam Querrey during their Wimbledon men's singles third round match on July 2. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK • Novak Djokovic has for the first time admitted that personal issues, rather than his wrist injury, were the reason for his surprise third-round defeat at Wimbledon last month.

The Serb's title defence at the All England Club was ended by Sam Querrey and the defeat led to a flurry of rumours that all was not well with the world No. 1's marriage.

Rather than console her husband back at their Monte Carlo home, Djokovic's wife Jelena opted to go on a solo holiday immediately after the championships and after refusing to comment on the situation for almost two months, Djokovic spoke openly on Friday.

"It's not an injury (that led to his Wimbledon exit). It was some other things that I was going through privately. We all have private issues and things that we have to encounter and overcome in order to evolve as a human being," he said ahead of the US Open, which starts tomorrow. "But it was resolved and life is going on like everything else."

In contrast, Andy Murray, the world No. 2, could not be fitter or happier going into the tournament.

A third Grand Slam title and a second Olympic gold medal obviously did wonders for his confidence.

"I am playing my best tennis just now. I'm feeling very positive about my game and my body. Mentally, I feel in a good place," the Scot said.

Friday's draw was certainly favourable to Murray. The second seed will begin against the big-hitting Czech Lukas Rosol, ranked 82nd in the world.

Murray's path forward would then seem to suggest Spain's Marcel Granollers, Gilles Simon of France, and then either the resurgent Grigor Dimitrov or Feliciano Lopez.

His main threats would appear to be Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori and the unpredictable third seed Stan Wawrinka.

Djokovic's side of the draw, however, is a potential minefield. He will begin his defence against Jerzy Janowicz, and powerful hitter John Isner would appear to be a probable fourth-round opponent.

At the quarter-final stage, it is likely that the Serb will have to contend with the distinct threat of Marin Cilic, who beat Nishikori to win the US Open two years ago.

Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic looks the most likely player to face Djokovic in the semi-finals, though the Canadian might have to beat Rafael Nadal, the fourth seed, to get there.

In the women's draw, Serena Williams faces Ekaterina Makarova in the first round, after which she may meet Ana Ivanovic in the third, and Simona Halep in the quarter-finals. But the world No. 1 has a sore right shoulder and her opponents will fancy their chances against her.

Venus Williams landed in the quarter of the draw with Agnieszka Radwanska while Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig could meet Spain's Garbine Muguruza in the third round.

Madison Keys is also in Muguruza's quarter and Roberta Vinci, last year's surprise finalist, is in the bottom quarter with Angelique Kerber.

THE TIMES, LONDON, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 28, 2016, with the headline 'Personal woes led to Wimbledon shock: Novak'. Print Edition | Subscribe