MONACO // Six-time grand slam tournament champion Novak Djokovic faces an anxious wait to see how long his right-wrist injury will keep him off the court with the French Open five weeks away.
Djokovic lost his Monte Carlo Masters title on Saturday after being beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Roger Federer in the semi-finals, where the Serb played with heavy strapping on his right wrist and was unable to serve or return to his usual level.
“I just rest now. I cannot play tennis for some time. How long, I don’t know. It’s really not in my hands any more,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to rest and see when it can heal 100 per cent, then I will be back on the court.”
There was some bright news. “The good thing is I don’t need to have a surgery. I don’t have any rupture or something like that,” Djokovic said.
“I’m going to go see doctors tonight and then tomorrow again have another MRI [scan], see if anything changed in this seven days since I had the last one.”
He does not know what the exact injury is. “I heard so many things in the last 10 days,” Djokovic said. “Trust me, it’s complicated.”
The world No 2-ranked Serb had complained earlier this week about the pain but then said it felt better after taking a day off from playing and training between his matches on Tuesday and Thursday.
His arduous quarter-final win against Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Friday, which went for more than two hours, aggravated the pain.
“Long match, long rallies, heavy balls, definitely did not help the state of my arm,” he said. “Since last night, it was as it is now.”
Djokovic was looking to win his fifth straight Masters title but felt he was up against it from the outset.
“The pain was there every single day from 10 days ago. At some stages, it was very painful,” he said.
“I didn’t want to pull out [against Federer] because then people start talking different things about me and my withdrawals and so forth. That was the main reason.”
While injury has affected Djokovic, Rafael Nadal had his cloak of clay court invincibility ripped to shreds by David Ferrer but said he would not panic.
The world No 1 had just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to his compatriot on Friday.
Nadal had won the Monte Carlo title for eight successive years from 2005 to 2012 before his run was ended in 2013 by Djokovic in the final.
Friday’s loss was his earliest in the principality since a third-round exit against Guillermo Coria on his debut appearance in 2003, when he was 16 years old.
For Ferrer, it was a first win on clay against the 13-time major winner since Stuttgart in 2004.
Even Nadal, whose season so far has seen titles in Doha and Rio and runners-up spots at the Australian Open and Miami, felt the shock waves.
“I started the year great in Doha and during Australia, but I don’t have to lie,” he said.
“After what happened in Australia it was a little bit harder for me to find again the intensity, the confidence, the inside power that always I have.
“Even if I won Rio, I played the final in Miami, there remains something in my mind and in my game. I’m going to fight to try to find that solution soon.”Nadal also said that he is injury-free with the back pain that sabotaged his Australian Open final dream no longer an issue.
“The back is in good shape,” he said. “Physical performance is in good shape.”
Nadal knows that this is not the time to press the panic button and recent history suggests he is right not to do so.
Next week he heads to Barcelona, where he is an eight-time champion and where he boasts a record of 40 wins against one loss, which he recorded in 2003.
Then it is on to his defence of the Madrid Masters title and Rome, where he won for the seventh time in 2013.
In the Italian capital, Nadal has 41 wins and just two defeats – against Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round in 2008 and to Djokovic in the 2011 final.
Even those two losses failed to affect his French Open hopes.
In the French capital, Nadal remains the king with eight titles and a record of 59 wins in 60 matches.
In the other semi-final, third seed Stanislas Wawrinka produced a ruthless display to beat Ferrer 6-1, 7-6 and set up an all-Swiss final with Federer.
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