LONDON • Novak Djokovic is "99 per cent" likely to miss the US Open next month, according to one of the doctors whom the Serbian 12-time Major champion has consulted on his long-standing elbow injury.
Djokovic was forced to retire at one set down against Tomas Berdych during the Wimbledon quarter-finals a fortnight ago. The 30-year-old has since received advice from medical specialists as he considers a long break from the sport to deal with the pain that he has suffered in his right elbow for about 18 months.
Zdenko Milinkovic, a doctor from Serbia, has suggested that Djokovic should rest for six to 12 weeks. That would rule him out of the final Grand Slam of the year in New York, which begins on Aug 28.
"He has a bruised bone due to excessive playing," Milinkovic told the daily sports newspaper Sportski Zurnal. "He did not have enough of a pause; Novak clenched his teeth and continued playing despite a serious injury. It was always a big concern for me as his friend.
"We're going to know whether this assessment stays or it will be changed. During that time he will not have a training session with the racket, but he will be able to do other segments of practice connected with the condition and similar things. Of course, he will have to undergo certain therapies."
Djokovic is expected to make a final decision on his schedule by today. An announcement will be made at a press conference in Belgrade today or tomorrow.
If he skips the US Open, it would end a run of 51 consecutive appearances at grand slam tournaments, stretching back to his first Major, the 2005 Australian Open. Only Spaniards Feliciano Lopez (62) and Fernando Verdasco (57) are on longer streaks.
He will also slip further in the world rankings from his position of No. 4. Already he is guaranteed to drop to No. 5 - his lowest ranking since July 2007 - next Monday. His absence in New York would leave him unable to defend the 1,200 points he gained for finishing runner-up to Stan Wawrinka last year.
Djokovic had already conceded that he would require a break, moments after he retired at Wimbledon.
THE TIMES, LONDON