Novak Djokovic said he does not know if will play at Wimbledon after tumbling out of the French Open on Tuesday. The Serb, three-times a Wimbledon champion, appeared distraught after his quarter-final defeat by unseeded Marco Cecchinato in which he was treated for neck pain.
Clearly still wound up after a 6-3 7-6(4) 1-6 7-6(11) defeat Djokovic gave one or two word answers to several questions and cast doubt over his participation in the grasscourt season.
“I don’t know if I’m going to play on grass,” Djokovic, who won the last of his 12 Grand Slam titles in Paris two years ago, told reporters crowded into a small interview room after he declined the opportunity to use a much larger one.
When pressed on whether that meant he would not play at Wimbledon, the 31-year-old Serb was non-committal.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just came from the court. Sorry, guys, I can’t give you that answer. I cannot give you any answer.”
Djokovic, who came to Paris with his lowest seeding since 2006 after a difficult past 12 months in which he has dealt with an elbow injury, had begun to look like his old self at Roland Garros — dropping just one set en route to the last eight.
He came up against an inspired Cecchinato though and wasted three set points to drag the match, played out in a soccer-like atmosphere on Court Suzanne Lenglen, into a decider. He refused to blame any physical problems for his defeat.
“He played amazing and credit to him. Congrats for a great performance. He came out very well,” he said. “I struggled from the beginning. Unfortunately, it took me time to get well, and struggled with a little injury, as well, at the beginning. And after, when I warmed up, it was better.
“Just a pity that I couldn’t capitalise on the chances in the 4-1 in the fourth set and some break points. I thought I had him there, but he came back and credit to him.”
While defeat will be painful Djokovic, who has spent 223 weeks as world number one during his career, he will reflect on a positive claycourt season having reached the semi-final in Rome and enjoyed a strong run in Paris before falling short.
His hunger for the fight was clear for all to see too against Cecchinato in a thrilling tiebreak — the Serb roaring to the crowd, who chanted “Djoko Djoko” at crucial moments. Asked if he was back, however, Djokovic was blunt.
“I am back in the locker room. That’s where I’m back,” said the 2016 French Open champion.