Djokovic Eyes 'Big Tournaments Ahead' & No. 1 Battle With Nadal, Federer
Novak Djokovic’s US Open came to a disappointing end on Sunday as the top seed and defending champion was forced to retire during his fourth-round match against Stan Wawrinka. Although his left shoulder injury forced him out of New York, the World No. 1 is already looking towards his next scheduled ATP Tour event.
The Serbian plans to be back in four weeks at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships before defending his title at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Djokovic is looking to tie Pete Sampras’ record of six year-end No. 1 finishes, but will need more wins in order to have a chance at that goal.
Rafael Nadal currently leads Djokovic by 140 points in the ATP Race to London and will further widen the gap if he reaches at least the quarter-finals in New York. Roger Federer would trail Djokovic by a mere 75 points if he takes the title this fortnight.
“This season is not yet over. There are plenty of big tournaments ahead,” Djokovic said. “[ATP] Rankings-wise, plenty of points to defend for me and try to [retain] that No. 1 ranking. Obviously Rafa has been playing well and Roger and the other guys. I just hope I'll get a chance to be competing because once I'm healthy, I actually like my chances playing in Asia. And also the indoor season. I historically play pretty well in those last couple of months of the year.”
But one thing he will have to wait for is a chance to add to his Grand Slam tally. Djokovic has 16 Grand Slam singles trophies, with only Nadal (18) and Federer (20) ahead in the all-time leaders list, but he closed the gap with his Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns this year.
“It's no secret that I have [a] desire and a goal to reach the most Grand Slams and reach Roger's record,” Djokovic said. “But at the same time, it's a long road ahead hopefully for me. I hope I can play for many more years. I'm planning to. I don't see an end behind the corner at all.”
Djokovic admitted he’ll first need some time to brush off the disappointment of being unable to defend his US Open crown. He hasn’t retired from a tour-level match since his 2017 Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych. Although injuries at inopportune moments are part of sports, it doesn’t make them any more palatable for the World No. 1.
“It is frustrating. Very frustrating,” Djokovic said. "[I’m] 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.”