Djokovic Outdoes Himself, Retires at Own Event; Federer in Estoril SFs
by Sean Randall | May 7th, 2010, 10:00 pm

I have to hand it to Novak Djokovic, he just keeps on surprising me. Djokovic proved today that he doesn’t discriminate where and when he retires. He’s retired in Grand Slams, in Davis Cup, in Tennis Masters and today he did what I would consider to be unthinkable, he retired from a match at his very own event, his family-owned Serbian Open in Belgrade. ADHEREL

Djokovic found himself down a set 6-4 to upstart Filip Krajinovic when the World No. 2 thought it better to quit because of allergies (and illness) then to keep playing and give his 18-year-old countryman a proper win.

I know he’s suffered from breathing issues for quite some time but now they seem to getting worse and becoming more persistent. Djokovic has been complaining of allergies since the start of Indian Wells – recall Monte Carlo when the Serb was listless in a loss to Verdasco – so he’s been having this problem for over two months.

And let’s also not forget, he’s done very well during this “allergy” time of year in the past. Last year won Belgrade and reached the finals in Monte Carlo and Rome. In 2008 he won Rome and reached the semifinal at Monte Carlo. And he’s won Miami and Indian Wells before also.

But this year, things have deteriorated. His allergies or the pressure or or his serve or something, perhaps psychosomatic, is kicking him down. Whatever it is he either needs to get off the tour and address it, or stop harping about it and play on. Otherwise every match and every loss henceforth there will be speculation of these allergies playing a part.

We know Novak has a pretty sizable, and at times, loud, team around him. So why doesn’t he put them to actual work or expand it by hiring a doctor? (And maybe toss in a trip to the pharmacy for some meds every now and then.)

As for his retirements, by my count it’s the 8th time Djokovic’s retired from an ATP level match in his career. But I have to give the Joker some credit as this is his first retirement since the Australian Open last year. Not bad for a guy with his stigma and one who plays a lot of tournaments.

Through translation Djokovic is unclear on his Madrid participation – draw will be released tomorrow. If he doesn’t play or do well he’ll leave the door open for Rafael Nadal to take his No. 2 ranking and the No. 2 French Open seeding.

I hope he doesn’t. Djokovic has bigger things to worry about right now than tennis. Novak should take a few months off the circuit and use every available resource he has to get this breathing/asthma/allergy issue under control because what’s he’s doing right now isn’t working. He has the money to allow him to fly around the world to talk with the best specialists in the field. What’s stopping him? Then again maybe it really is between the ears. Who the heck knows.

Moving on…

Big ups to Americans Sam Querrey and John Isner who scored themselves very impressive singles victories over Igor Andreev and Richard Gasquet, respectively. While Querrey now faces Krajinovic, Isner gets Stan Wawrinka. I think Sam should win, but John could be in for a long afternoon.

Roger Federer, who has never retired from a tennis match, is in the Estoril semifinals against claycourter Albert Montanes. The Spaniard Montanes is a decent player on the dirt but it’s a match Federer should still win.

“I got off to a bad start in the first game, falling to 0-30 then he played a great passing shot,” said Federer after his 7-6, 6-2 win over Arnaud Clement. “I missed a couple of chances at 3-3.

“I didn’t play beautiful tennis. I had to play safe, which isn’t something I’m used to doing. I have always struggled against him and today you could see that.”

In the other semifinal it’s Federico Gil v. Guillermo Garcia Lopez.

The Munich semifinals shape up with Phil Petzchner v. Mikhail Youhzny and Marin Cilic v. Marcos Baghdatis. Today Baghdatis, who doesn’t do that well on the clay, had a great win over Phil Kohlschreiber. Cilic beat Almagro in three sets.

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43 Comments for Djokovic Outdoes Himself, Retires at Own Event; Federer in Estoril SFs

jane Says:

“I have to give the Joker some credit ” – No, you really don’t Sean. But how nice that you have.

Here’s to either Sam or Krajinovic winning Belgrade; Fed for Estoril; and Cilic for Munich (since Berdy’s out).

Madrid should be interesting – can’t help looking ahead.

Skeezerweezer Says:

I am staying out of the Nole retirement discussion, others have had more passion about the subject, so I will leave it to them.

I am glad Sean is not forgetting the two Americans ( U.S. players who historically don’t do well on clay ) giving them some press time that they have made it thus far in aclay tournament so far from home! And young Jedi’s to boot! :)

Ben Pronin Says:

Taking a few months off tour is an interesting proposition, but unlikely with 2 slams coming up. If his troubles continue, which they probably will, he should consider taking off the last few months after the US Open. From September to January, thats almost 4 months. Yeah he’ll lose a lot of points, but chances are he’ll lose them anyway. He needs to regroup. If he comes back full throttle, he’ll be able to reclaim a lot of points anyway.

stu Says:

Does anyone know whether he sees a shrink?

jane Says:

stu, no but I think a sports psychologist could possibly be a good idea, regardless of the breathing/allergy issues; it certainly couldn’t hurt.

Ben, interesting idea, taking the latter part of the year off. It might be helpful for all sorts of reasons. With Djoko, besides the breathing issues, there have been the serving problems since late last year, and the potential confidence issues. So how does one address it? Maybe the time off is just what he needs, to regroup. Or maybe a psychologist is the way to go. Or maybe just leave him alone and see what happens. Dunno.

I did have a friend who sought an alternative treatment for allergies (worsened by her asthma); she got shots of a vitamin mixture in times when her allergies were aggravated. It seemed to work.

stu Says:

I’m shocked that there are only a few
of us that empahize with the guy. He obviously doesn’t WANT to quit or play badly, he wants to be #1 in the world! There has to be something going on with him if he is wasting his youth in this manner, when he should be trying to win every tournment he plays! I suspect a very serious illness that he doesn’t want to talk about. That would explain why his parents are so obnoxiously passionate, why his team and he look defeated all the time.…could he be very sick?

blank Says:

What’s the point in waiting till year end? That can only totally destroy his confidence if the current state continues it’s downward slope. I seriously hope he tries to get what ever that’s ailing him fixed soon. But seriously, I doubt if he ever really worked as hard as the Fed or Nadal. He lacks the inner fire that has made the two of them so successful.

jane Says:

stu, I don’t know what to think. Maybe there are some serious underlying issues, but it’s really difficult to know…

Kimmi Says:

baghdatis eventually winning some clay matches this year, in munich..beating kohls today too…ha ha! baggy should play on clay c’moon!

Ben Pronin Says:

There are rumors that Djokovic doesn’t train as hard as the other top 5-ish guys. But in all fairness, how can you finish number 3 in the world 3 times in a row behind two of the greatest players of all time if you don’t train hard? And especially considering the number of tournaments he played last year. I’m sure he’s having his issues with breathing now, but I think his biggest problem is mental. It’s not the inner fire, it’s the composure. Something happened midway through 2008 that shut his spark down (too many tough losses to Nadal, I’m guessing) and he’s having trouble getting it back. But it’s not like he doesn’t want to win. Remember his reaction after winning the Paris Masters last year?

Blank, I can’t imagine anyone skipping two slams, or even one slam, if they’re actually capable of playing physically. Even if Djokovic isn’t 100% come the French, I doubt he’d skip it all together. Whether it’s smart or not, I don’t know, but it’s unlikely. With him, he’ll probably still post good results, so why not wait until the slam season is over? I don’t know, I’m not Djokovic and I’m not a part of his team, but I hope he sorts things out. Sampras owns 14 slams, second only to Federer for less than a year, and he had thalassemia minor. He won matches throwing up. What a champ, Djokovic needs to emulate his idol.

jane Says:

Ben, Djoko hired Muster’s ex-trainer, Muster – known as the iron man and Musterminator : ) – after last year’s Miami event. I think he has tried to improve his fitness and train accordingly. He played more matches than any other player last year, too, so I find it hard to believe it’s a fitness thing. Seems more immune system related and/or mental.

funches Says:

Analysts have been urging top players to skip slams to take care of mental problems for years, and it’s always asinine because A) they easily could rebound and win or go deep in said slam, and B) As Ben pointed out, they are simply not going to skip a slam, so it’s a waste of time to suggest they do.

Djokovic may have serious problems right now, but there’s another possibility. He was physically and mentally exhausted by the start of Roland Garros last year, so maybe he’s pacing himself this year to be fresh for Paris. He played very well in Monte Carlo and Rome before losing to Verdasco (in ugly fashion the first time, in a huge battle the second time), so it’s not like he is reeling.

mmm Says:

Sure, he wants to be #1 in the world but more than that he doesn’t want to lose to an up-and-comer from Serbia so instead he quits. He’s a punk!!! What a crappy way to 1) support your own tournament and 2) deny another Serbian a chance at a good win. I hope Nole never wins another slam…but that’ll probably never happen anyway.

blank Says:

Ben, I agree with you that he is unlikely to miss the slams, but if he continues to post poor results, for Djokovic it just seems to linger forever. He has performed rather poorly in the slams and that makes me think he is not upto par physically.

If you have great talent, that alone can carry one far (but not all the way)…and that I think is the reason why he has been close to Fed and Nadal over the past few years. I am not saying he is not training hard enough, I don’t know, but just appears like he doesn’t train as hard as he should. He hasn’t beat Murray in 2 years, his wins over Fed last year (except Basel) were not impressive and he beat Nadal few times later in year when Nadal wasn’t fully fit. He is still No. 2 because Nadal dropped so many points last year, Murray is playing like crap and DelPo isn’t playing.

OllyK Says:

So, he says its “only” allergies.
I know allergies could be horrible. My husband has that kind of allergy when almost nothing is helping him in August and September when ragweed is blossoming. He uses Claritin plus corticosteroid nasal sprays plus Singulair, medication for asthma (although he doesn’t have asthma itself) and that combination is helping him that much he can sleep but during the day he looks like he has the worst flu. So, I understand that could be a serious problem for professional athlete. Poor Nole.
I don’t think there is another health problem hiding behind this one. Serious allergy itself is enough to keep Nole from tennis for a while, unfortunately. Especially with his history of asthma. I just hope for the best. :/

Cbeast Says:

Looks like Federer is gonna be playing later than expected due to rain at the Estoril Open. I just hope it stops soon…. I was looking really forward to this game. :(

Kimmi Says:

oh so there is rain, thank cbeast

maria Says:

There goes Djoko the “Jacko” again! He always has alibis when he is down and out, ranging from allergies, asthmas, sars, or whatever diseases he likes to concoct just to avoid losing blatantly! What a sore loser! He only got to be number 2 anyhow because Nadal got injured and wasnt able to play on so many games! Djoko Jacko doesnt deserve to be number 2 at all!

blank Says:

If this pattern holds I am not sure if there will be any play at all today:

Dan Martin Says:

Federer adding points this week with Djoko dropping points and Nadal remaining idle makes Sampras’ 286 week record look more and more likely to fall. I am not sure what has to happen for Nadal to catch him, but the numbers are pretty steep at the moment even with Roger defending 3000 points between Madrid and Paris.

blank Says:

Fed: 10,340
Nadal: 6,480

Scenario 1:
Fed: Win Estoril + SF Madrid + Finals RG
–> 10,340 + 250 – 400 – 800 = 9,390
Nadal: Win Madrid + Win RG
–> 6,480 + 400 + 1,820 = 8,700

Scenario 2:
Fed: Win Estoril + SF Madrid + SF RG
–> 10,340 + 250 – 400 – 1,280 = 8,910

Scenario 3: Win Estoril + QF Madrid + QF RG
–> 10,340 – 820 – 1,640 = 8,130

So overall, looks good for Fed unless he screws it up, which he has been doing a lot lately.

Kimmi Says:

A quote from article about verdasco form gototennis
But Fernando says he’s ready for the pressure. He recently told Spanish media that he plans to be in the Top 5 this year and doesn’t fear anyone on clay but his countryman Rafael Nadal:

“The last three weeks have given me great confidence, I have improved my self-esteem and I hope to be playing in the final in Roland Garros. If I have Nadal in my side of the draw, of course it will be very difficult. But with Federer, Djokovic or Murray, I think I have the potential to reach the final.”

i am afraid with this kind of thinking, he will never beat nadal. very sad to hear….

blank Says:

Kimmi, Currently BBC is airing the program “Roger Federer: The spirit of a champion”. Thought you may be interested.

I guess the same program should be on in the US as well. Not sure.

Cbeast Says:

Thanks for the feedback on the Estoril Open Blank.

Does anyone know what they are saying over there ?

When is play expected resume and what is the new order of play gonna be ?


Kimmi Says: i have BBC, i will have to check. I wonder what channel that is. I have rogers.

blank Says:

channel 37

Ben Pronin Says:

Blank, he hasn’t played Murray in a while. Murray hasn’t beaten Djokovic in over a year, too. But I agree, his wins over Federer weren’t overly impressive. And I wouldn’t say Nadal wasn’t fit last year, but he wasn’t playing his best and was lacking big time in confidence. Although, I have watched the highlights of their year end matches last year and Djokovic made great use of the forehand up the line. That’s a huge shot that he should employ more often, but doesn’t for no apparent reason. And he’s also never lost to Del Potro.

The problem is that Djokovic’s results don’t resemble that of a Slam champ but more of a pretender. Verdasco is getting the same results on clay that Djokovic did last year but, honestly, I don’t see Verdasco as a potential champion in any of the slams, including Roland Garros. With Djokovic, we’ve seen him win one slam so everyone knows he can do it, but he just keeps falling short. He needs a huge win. Beating Nadal on clay, Federer on grass, or either one in a slam in epic fashion, something in this category. Also, if he were to skip the end of the year, where he’s defending a lot, his ranking would slip, and maybe that would help reignite the fire to get back to the top.

Kimmi Says:

thanks blank, i have switched to the channel and just finishing..bummer! thanks anyways.

Anna Says:

Nole should take the next few weeks to recoup and regroup. Allergies are exhausting, especially if it’s combined with bronchitis. You can’t be that ill and recoup in a few days. If he plays Madrid he’ll probably just be disappointed early on further messing with his confidence. Stepping back a few weeks before FO will give his body a rest and at least a fighting chance going into the slams.

Kim Says:

Djokovic is an athlete with asthma (chronic inflammatory disease of the airways)and allergies. He faces special challenges. He has bad and good days. He should be praised for what he has accomplished so far, not mocked. Very sad to read so many ignorant comments.

Cam Says:

Djoko played very well against Verdasco in Rome and only just lost, he may have allergies, but I think his problem is a general inconsistency in form and frustration because he is not playing at his best.

Only he knows what the problem is and how to address it.

blank Says:

Ben, I totally agree with your points.

Good to hear that Djoko has now withdrawn from Madrid. Good choice and I hope he is in a better shape for RG.

Now it’s almost certain Roger and Nadal will be seeded 1 & 2 at RG.

Kimmi & Cbeast, you are welcome.

madmax Says:


I agree with you. Irrespective of whether people dislike/like a player, and they are ill/injured, you don’t criticise their decisions to retire/withdraw. It’s unsupportive and ignorant.

Only that player knows how his body is and if Novak doesn’t feel 100%, then he knows he won’t be able to give 100% to that tournament.

Just accept it. Some people were like this when Roger Federer withdrew from Dubai this year -even with a serious lung infection – I think people just want to have a dig at an opponent and make fans feel even worse, I don’t understand this at all.

Novak has still won a slam – can still be classed in the same category as slam winners, hewitt, roddick, delpo, nadal, federer. He has still had a successful career. His many tournaments last year (too many), have caught up with him. This is just a warning. And he is heeding it.

Kimmi Says:

baghdatis took the first set against cilic, he is on a roll on clay…

Kimmi Says:

wow, and isner beat wawrinka on clay in straight set..very surprising results so far. isner must love the courts in belgrade. good for him..fist clay court final..

jane Says:

Kimmi I saw that with Baggy – wow. I was hoping for Cilic to win, but it’s good for Baggy as he hasn’t accomplished much since beating Fed, has he?

Kimmi Says:

yeah, jane we spoke too fast, cilic is hitting back..just took the second set.

contador Says:

kimmi, nelta, blank…..who else is playing the brackets?

jane? going for it?

Cbeast Says:

Well good news is that Fed just stated his match vs Montanes.

Cbeast Says:

Or the bad news!

Feds down a break and facing a nother 2 break points ! :(

Cbeast Says:

Federer Breaks back but hes still down a break.

Cbeast Says:

Cant believe it.

Montanes serving for the set after 24 minutes.

anel Says:

Kim and madmax You are real tennis fans,and it is nice to see comments like yours about Nole.People that criticise Nole’s decisions to retire when sick are haters and ignoramuses.They just feed their hatred by writing against Nole.

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