French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic unsure on playing Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic was knocked out of the French Open by Marco Cecchinato on Tuesday
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic says he “doesn’t know if I am going to play on grass” after losing in the French Open quarter-finals.

Djokovic was beaten 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 7-6 (13-11) by Italy’s world number 72 Marco Cecchinato in Paris on Tuesday.

An elbow injury has limited the 12-time Grand Slam champion’s playing time this year, while he was treated on his neck during the defeat by Cecchinato.

French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic unsure on playing Wimbledon
French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic unsure on playing Wimbledon

The 31-year-old Serb said he did not “want to talk about tennis right now”.

It could mean Djokovic misses Wimbledon, which starts on 2 July.

Djokovic received treatment on a neck injury after the first set

Djokovic’s defeat by Cecchinato, who had never won a Grand Slam match until Roland Garros, means he has not reached a semi-final of a major since the 2016 US Open.

He has dropped to 22nd in the rankings – his lowest since October 2006 – after a year which has been disrupted by injury.

The former world number one decided to take time off after retiring from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych last summer with an elbow injury.

He did not play again until January, when he reached the last 16 of the Australian Open, but then needed a “minor procedure” on the same elbow after losing to Hyeon Chung, ruling him out for two months.

After returning at Indian Wells in March, Djokovic made slow progress in terms of results before warming up for Roland Garros with a run to the Rome quarter-finals.

He has spoken this week about building up his form in order to peak at the Grand Slams and appeared to be doing precisely that when he demolished 30th seed Fernando Verdasco in straight sets in the fourth round.

But Djokovic was shocked to fall at the last-eight stage in Paris.

“Any defeat is difficult in the Grand Slams, especially the one that came from months of build-up,” he said during a spiky news conference which, unusually, took place only about 15 minutes after his defeat.

“I thought I had a great chance to get at least a step further, but wasn’t to be.”

Asked if he was back, Djokovic was blunt.

“I am back in the locker room. That’s where I’m back,” he said.

Djokovic, whose 20th seeding was his lowest at a Slam since the 2006 US Open, has lost in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the second successive year.

These defeats have followed his victory in 2016 which sealed a career Grand Slam – only the eighth man to have achieved the feat – and meant he held all four majors at the same time.

Novak Djokovic serves
Djokovic reached the French Open final in 2012, 2014 and 2015 before winning in 2016

This defeat will really sting – analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller in Paris

Djokovic left Court Suzanne Lenglen and headed straight for the news conference room: not the main one, which has become his natural home, but the secondary one, which was lacking an official microphone and did not have nearly enough room for those wishing to attend.

His comments about the grass season were made in the heat of the moment, but this defeat will really sting.

It is a reminder that for all his progress in recent weeks, he is still a shadow of the man who had won six of the previous eight Grand Slams when he won the title here in 2016.

And, physically, Djokovic still has concerns. The elbow he had minor surgery on after the Australian Open seems much improved, but he once again needed treatment on the shoulder that has caused him intermittent trouble over the past couple of years.

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One of the all-time greats

  • Djokovic became the eighth man in history to win all four Grand Slam events by winning his first Roland Garros title in 2016, defeating Andy Murray in the final
  • It was his 12th Grand Slam crown – to add to his six Australian Open triumphs, three Wimbledon titles and two US Open wins
  • It also meant Djokovic held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time following wins at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, the 2016 Australian Open and then at Roland Garros
  • He lost the 2016 US Open final – his last appearance in a Grand Slam final
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