Novak Djokovic recalls: ‘My retirements always come with a reason’

As we all know, Novak Djokovic had struggled a lot in his early years on the Tour, calling for medical timeouts and collecting a couple of retirements. Djokovic could not stay on the court for an entire match against Roger Federer in Monte Carlo 2008, and he retired at the Australian Open next January versus Andy Roddick. Thus, Novak failed to defend the Melbourne crown he claimed a year ago, not feeling well after a couple of exhausting encounters and leaving the court while Andy led 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 after two and a half hours. Roddick lost the opening set, but there was nothing wrong with his game, hitting 43 winners and 14 unforced errors to keep the pressure on the defending champion. Novak claimed the opener and did not feel well after that, thinking about retirement in the second set’s closing stages but enduring and playing until 1-2 in the fourth. Djokovic stayed on the court until 2:30 am against Marcos Baghdatis two days earlier and did not practice before facing Roddick.

He wanted to compete during the night session, but the organizers refused and put him under boiling sun and high temperatures. There were no breaks in the opening set, and Novak claimed the opening four points of the tie break with forehand winners. Djokovic placed a volley winner at the net at 4-2 and clinched the set with another mighty forehand at 6-3. Andy grabbed the first break at 3-3 in set number two with a smash winner and landed a service winner at 5-4 to wrap up the set and gain a boost. Struggling more and more physically, Djokovic lost serve at the beginning of the third set when Roddick placed a perfect forehand down the line winner before pulling the break back in the next game.

Novak Djokovic retired against Andy Roddick in Melbourne 2009.

After forcing the rival’s error, Andy broke again at 2-2 and held for 4-2 with another ace down the T line. After hitting a double fault, Djokovic fell 5-2 and allowed Roddick to wrap up the set with a service winner in game eight. At the beginning of the fourth set, the Serb saved four break chances and fired a backhand down the line winner to avoid an early setback before losing serve at love at 1-1 and deciding to end his misery and retire.

“The main reason for my retiring is cramping and soreness in my entire body. I struggled with my movement; that was evident. From the third set, I could not serve as in the previous part of the match, and the speed went down by 20 or 30 km/h, making it easier for Andy to return. Also, he used the more extended rallies wisely, as I struggled in those. I tried my best, but sometimes you can not fight against your body. It’s an unfortunate Australian Open ending for me. I did have retirements in the past, but they always came with the reason, as I can not play anymore. I finished my previous match at 2:30 am and went to bed at 6:00 am, with not enough time to recover and no practice session yesterday. Those were challenging circumstances, and the conditions were extreme today. I felt bad already at the end of the second set, but I wanted to give my best and at least try. I did request to play at night, but the organizers refused that. I have to turn the page and look into the future,” Novak Djokovic said.