Defending champion, Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the Miami Open because of an elbow injury.
Djokovic has won the last three editions of the Miami Open, and his overall tally of six titles is a record he shares with Andre Agassi. However, he has endured a really difficult nine months, claiming just two titles since completing his career Slam at Roland Garros last year.
Djokovic completed the Indian Wells and Miami double in the previous three seasons, but having surrendered his Indian Wells title with a quarter-final loss to Nick Kyrgios, he has now given up his Miami title as well.
"My doctor has strongly advised against play because my elbow injury, that I keep carrying on for months, got worse in the past week," he said.
"I will do everything in my power to recover and do all the necessary therapy to be able to return on court as soon as possible."
There have been hints and rumours that the Serbian has been struggling with one or more injuries in his right arm – variously described as shoulder, arm and elbow – ever since Wimbledon last year, where his shock defeat to Sam Querrey marked the beginning of a downturn in his results following the high of completing his career Grand Slam at the French Open. Djokovic won only one tournament in the rest of 2016- the Rogers Cup in Toronto- and went on to lose the world number one ranking to Andy Murray.
Djokovic’s absence from Miami means he will concede further ground to Murray on top of the world rankings, as he will lose the 1000 points he earned from winning the title last year. Murray, by contrast doesn’t have much to lose, having exited the tournament in the third round last season. As a result, Murray will extend his lead over Djokovic to more than 4,000 points come the end of the Miami Open.
Djokovic opened 2017 with an encouraging victory over Murray in the Qatar Open final, but his problems were to take another mighty dip as he suffered a shock second round loss to Denis Istomin, ranked outside the top 100, at the Australian Open. He proceeded to represent Serbia in the first round of the Davis Cup in February, where he received treatment on his shoulder during a tie against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev. He was expected to be out of action until Indian Wells.
However, Djokovic made an earlier-than-expected return to the tour, accepting a late wildcard to play in Acapulco. He lost in the quarter finals in the Mexican City to Nick Kyrgios, who would again conquer the Serbian in Indian Wells after another magnificent serving display.
World no. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has also pulled out of the Miami Masters due to the imminent arrival of his first child.
The absence of Murray and Djokovic means that the only active Miami Masters champion in the field would be Roger Federer, who won back-to-back titles in 2005-6 but hasn’t reached the final since. However, the 35-year-old has been in superb form since his return from a six-month absence, winning the Australian Open in January, and claiming a fifth Indian Wells title just last week.
The men’s draw for the Miami Masters will be released on Monday.