BELGRADE • Twelve-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will miss the rest of the tennis season to recover from an elbow injury, the Serb announced yesterday.
The 30-year-old posted a video statement on Facebook in which he said he had decided to rest the injury which caused him to retire during his Wimbledon quarter-final against Czech Tomas Berdych earlier this month.
"I've made a decision to not play any competitions or tournaments for the rest of the 2017 season," Djokovic, down at No. 4 in the world rankings for the first time since 2009, said. "It's a decision that had to be made."
He also wrote on his official website: "All the doctors I've consulted, and all the specialists I have visited, in Serbia and all over the world, have agreed that this injury requires rest. A prolonged break from the sport is inevitable.
"I'll do whatever it takes to recover. It is most important for me to recover, to be able to play injury free for as long as possible, to compete in the sport that has given me so much.
"And I firmly believe that I will come back stronger."
Djokovic posted the messages shortly before a news conference, in which he explained his decision in more detail.
"I have been dragging this injury for the past 18 months and it has escalated in the last month or two," he told reporters.
Months Novak Djokovic says he has let the shoulder injury drag on for.
"I had to make a radical decision. It was a difficult one but I had no choice and will now have time to heal my body.
"Surgery is not necessary, all the surgeons I have spoken to have not recommended that course of action and I was also keen to avoid it."
Djokovic has endured a dreadful 12 months on the court. Between mid-January 2015 and June last year, he won 17 of his 22 finals played in 24 tournaments.
It seemed nothing could interrupt his dominance of world tennis. But since winning the French Open last year to complete his career Grand Slam, he has failed to claim another major title.
The Serb has also lost his world No. 1 ranking in the process.
This year, he crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round and the French Open in the quarter-finals.
He also split with his entire coaching team in May, having parted with Boris Becker at the end of last year.
Djokovic will miss the US Open - the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year which begins on Aug 28 - and he faces a big fall in the rankings. But said he would be back for the start of next year.
"I will definitely play in the first week of next season," he added.
"I now have to focus on healing my elbow as quickly as I can so I can get back to full training."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN