Djokovic to sit out re­main­der of sea­son

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Howard Fendrich

For more than a year, No­vak Djokovic’s right el­bow hurt when he hit serves or fore­hands. The pain kept get­ting worse, and now he’s go­ing to give his arm a chance to heal by sit­ting out the rest of 2017.

Djokovic will miss the U.S. Open, end­ing his streak of par­tic­i­pat­ing in 51 con­sec­u­tive Grand Slam tour­na­ments, and aims to re­turn to the ATP tour in Jan­uary. He made the an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day — ex­actly a year to the day af­ter Roger Fed­erer said he would be side­lined for the se­cond half of last sea­son.

“This is one of those in­juries where noth­ing can re­ally help in­stantly. You just have to al­low nat­u­ral re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to take its course,” Djokovic said. “Pro­fes­sion­ally, this is not, ob­vi­ously, an easy de­ci­sion for me.”

Since en­ter­ing his first ma­jor tour­na­ment at the 2005 Aus­tralian Open, Djokovic has never missed one, the third-long­est ac­tive run among men and sev­enth-long­est in his­tory.

In that time, the 30-year-old Serb has won 12 Grand Slam ti­tles, in­clud­ing the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2015. Only three men have won more ma­jor ten­nis sin­gles cham­pion- ships: Fed­erer (19), Rafael Nadal (15) and Pete Sam­pras (14).

“The re­mark­able se­ries has come to an end,” Djokovic said. “My body has its lim­its, and I have to re­spect that and be grate­ful for all that I have achieved so far.”

He said that An­dre Agassi, with whom he re­cently be­gan work­ing on a part-time ba­sis, will be his coach af­ter the hia­tus. Djokovic plans to start with a tuneup tour­na­ment ahead of the Aus­tralian Open at the start of 2018.

Djokovic made his an­nounce­ment via Face­book , his web­site and at a news con­fer­ence in Bel­grade, Ser­bia.

His last match was July 12, when he stopped play­ing dur­ing his Wim­ble­don quar­ter­fi­nal against To­mas Berdych be­cause the el­bow was too painful. Djokovic said then he had been strug­gling with the el­bow on his racket-swing­ing arm for about 1½ years, which he re­it­er­ated Wed­nes­day. He said he does not need surgery.

Since win­ning the 2016 French Open to be­come the eighth man to com­plete a ca­reer Grand Slam and the first man in nearly a half-cen­tury to win four con­sec­u­tive ma­jor tro­phies, Djokovic has dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the rank­ings and he failed to de­fend any of those ma­jor ti­tles.

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