PARIS • Novak Djokovic said he does not know if he will play at Wimbledon after tumbling out of the French Open on Tuesday.
The three-time Wimbledon champion appeared distraught after his quarter-final defeat by unseeded Marco Cecchinato during which he was treated for neck pain.
Clearly still wound up after a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 7-6 (13-11) defeat, he gave one-or two-word answers to several questions and cast doubt on the grass-court season.
"I don't know if I'm going to play on grass," the Serb, who won the last of his 12 Grand Slam titles in Paris two years ago, told reporters.
When pressed on whether that meant he would not play at Wimbledon, which begins on July 2, the 31-year-old was non-committal.
"I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do. Sorry, guys, I can't give you that answer," he said.
Djokovic, who came to Paris with his lowest seeding since 2006 after a difficult 12 months in which he has dealt with an elbow injury, had began to look like his old self at Roland Garros - dropping just one set en route to the last eight.
But he came up against an inspired Cecchinato and he refused to blame any physical problems.
He said: "I struggled from the beginning. Unfortunately, it took me time to get well, and I struggled with a little injury as well. After I warmed up, it was better.
"Just a pity that I couldn't capitalise on the chances, 4-1 in the fourth set and some break points. I thought I had him there, but he came back and credit to him."
His ambiguous reply to whether he will play the grass-court season may have been the words of a hurting champion too soon after a crushing defeat but, if he does decide to skip Wimbledon, it might be wise, according to Mats Wilander.
"Well I guess he's not ready physically," said the former world No. 1.
"Maybe he is further away physically... or maybe it's a different approach, maybe he needs to not go on grass because grass is the ultimate confidence killer.
"Even if you play well on grass, the bounce is bad. It's hard to find good practice courts. You can't really move properly because you slip and slide. And if you are really, really keen to get back to your best, which for him is the hard-court season, logically you would not want to play on grass."
Meanwhile, Andy Murray's efforts to be fit for Wimbledon took a hit on Tuesday, when he pulled out of a minor Dutch grass-court event after almost a year out with a hip injury. He will now switch his attention to the Fever Tree tournament at Queen's, which starts on June 18.
If he does not play at Queen's, he almost certainly will not risk Wimbledon, where he has won twice.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN