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Djokovic's US Open title defence comes to an end as he retires injured against Wawrinka

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 2 Sep 2019
  • Djokovic retires while down two sets to Wawrinka in fourth round
  • World No. 1 couldn't shrug off a shoulder injury
  • Wawrinka advances into QF clash with Medvedev
Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic shake hands (PA Images)

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was forced to call off his U.S. Open title defence, retiring while trailing Stan Wawrinka by two sets in their fourth round showdown on Sunday night.

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Djokovic retired down 4-6 5-7 1-2 against Wawrinka, citing a shoulder injury that he says has been lingering on and off for the last couple of weeks and first surfaced publicly in the second round of the U.S. Open against Juan Ignacio Londero.

The defending champion was able to manage the pain in that match as he twice came back from breaks down in different sets to beat Londero in three, but after a comfortable straight sets victory against Denis Kudla in the previous round, Djokovic began to shake his left shoulder out between points against Wawrinka, who was back playing some of his best tennis since returning from double knee surgery at the start of last year.

Novak Djokovic (PA Images)
After dropping the second set, Djokovic soldiered on for three games in the third, but retired when Wawrinka broke him to love.

“It was the left shoulder, unfortunately,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference. “It is frustrating. Very frustrating. Obviously not the first, not the last player to get injured and to withdraw from one of the biggest events in sport. But obviously I just came off the court, so of course it hurts.
“Evaluation is to come. I did a lot of treatment and diagnostics in the last couple of weeks, but I have to do it again. I hope that I’ll be able to play Tokyo.”

Djokovic, unfairly, was booed off the court by the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, who were disappointed to see what was looking like a great match cut short.

However, Djokovic said he harboured no ill-feelings towards the crowd, despite giving them a sarcastic thumbs up while departing the court.

“I am not being offended, I don’t pay too much attention,” he said. “I respect others and I hope others respect me. I understand that the crowd wanted to see the whole match.”

Djokovic was attempting to become the first man to defend the U.S. Open since Roger Federer in 2008. The Serbian will now focus on fixing his shoulder, and as he mentioned, try and recover in time for the ATP 500 Japan Open, which starts in Tokyo on September 30.

Stan Wawrinka (PA Images)
It’s the first time Djokovic has bowed out of the U.S. Open before the quarter-finals since 2006, when he was only 19.

Meanwhile, Wawrinka continues to make gradual improvements as he looks to recapture his best tennis from before his knee surgery - and for two sets against Djokovic, he was playing like the man who has won three Grand Slam titles, including beating the Serbian for the 2016 U.S. Open crown.

The Swiss, who also made the French Open quarter-finals this season before going down to Federer, paid tribute to Djokovic, who he’s close friends with, on court after the match.

"It's never the way you want to finish a match. I feel sorry for Novak. He's a friend and an amazing champion. We've played some amazing battles all my career," Wawrinka said on court after the match. "I want to keep my level [from] tonight. I was playing some very good tennis. I am happy to be back."

Djokovic’s exit gives the quarterfinalists in the top half of the draw a great chance to progress to the final. 

Wawrinka will next face Cincinnati champion Daniil Medvedev, who won his 18th match of the summer in beating qualifier Dominik Koepfer in four sets, while Federer and a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov square off in the other quarter-final.


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Djokovic's US Open title defence comes to an end as he retires injured against Wawrinka

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was forced to call off his U.S. Open title defence, retiring while trailing Stan Wawrinka by two sets in their fourth round showdown on Sunday night.

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