Novak Djokovic got left shoulder pain and his chances faded in the fourth round against Stan Wawrinka. Then, soon enough, the defending champion and No. 1 seed of the U.S. Open was out of the tournament and left to a chorus of boos.
The Serbian superstar shook his head while walking over to the chair umpire to say that he was retiring from the match due to that shoulder ache while trailing 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 and being outplayed thoroughly Sunday night.
Perhaps some spectators confused by the sudden turn of the tournament, and likely disappointed in the brevity of the show that they got to watch for their expensive tickets, they jeered when Djokovic walked off the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium to move to the locker room with his two equipment bags over his right shoulder. He responded with a thumbs-up.
The 32-year-old tennis player explained that he had been taking different stuff to instantly kill the pain but sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
Novak Djokovic had won up to 36 of his past 37 Grand Slam matches, and 4 of the last 5 major titles, in one of the most dominant stretches that the sport has seen. That pushed his total of Slam trophy to 16, moving within 4 of Roger Federer‘s record 20, and within 2 of Rafael Nadal’s 18.
When the match was over, Wawrinka gave Djokovic a hug. The No. 23 seed also said that it had never been the way you want to finish the match and he felt sorry for Novak. He will face No. 5-seeded Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
This was the 13th mid-match retirement of Novak Djokovic’s career and his sixth at a Grand Slam tournament, according to the ATP.
This result scuttles the discussed possibility of a semifinal in New York between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, which would have been a rematch of their Wimbledon final in last July when Djokovic won in an unprecedented fifth-set tiebreaker after nearly five hours.