Long-running elbow problem makes for a short day at Wimbledon for Novak Djokovic

Long-running elbow problem makes for a short day at Wimbledon for Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic receives treatment for an injured elbow during his match against Tomas Berdych on July 12 at Wimbledon. Djokovic had to pull out of the match in the second set. (Gareth Fuller / PA via Associated Press)

In the end, the elbow pain was just too much for Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian star, seeded No. 2 at Wimbledon, pulled out of his quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych on Wednesday, two games into the second set.


"It's the elbow that already keeps bothering for over a year-and-a-half, actually," said Djokovic, who lost the first set 6-7 (2) and had fallen behind 2-0 in the second. "It's unfortunate that I had to finish Wimbledon, Grand Slam, this way. I mean, if someone feels bad about it, it's me."

Three of the tournament's top four seeds have been eliminated, with No. 4 Rafael Nadal losing Monday in the fourth round, and No. 1 Andy Murray losing in a Wednesday quarterfinal.

Djokovic said it "didn't help at all" that his match Monday was postponed until Tuesday because Nadal's match on Court 1 was nearly five hours. Djokovic, who was scheduled to play on the same court, had wanted his match to be moved to Centre Court, where he could have played under the lights. Regardless, he had to play on back-to-back days.

"As an athlete, one way or another, at a certain stage of your career, you're going to experience these kind of things," he said. "Injuries are part of this sport, unfortunately. Professional tennis is getting very physical in the last couple of years. It's not easy to kind of play on the highest level throughout the entire season, then be able to do that over and over again every season, and then stay healthy.

"Obviously, we do everything in our power. That's why we have huge amount of people around us in our teams, to make sure that we cover every field or expertise that we possibly can so we can perform as best we can. At the end of the day, we're all humans."

Venus rising

Of the four women's semifinalists, Venus Williams is the only one who got this far last year. She plays Johanna Konta of Britain on Wednesday with her sights on a sixth Wimbledon title.

In the other women's semifinal, Spain's Garbine Muguruza plays Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.

For Konta and Rybarikova, it's their first time in a Grand Slam semifinal.

Williams, 37, is the oldest player to advance to the semifinals of a Grand Slam since 1994, when Martina Navratilova, also 37, was runner-up at Wimbledon.

"I don't think about the definition of age," Williams said. "It's beautiful to be at all ages really. That's my experience so far."

Paying homage

Konta, the first British woman to make the Wimbledon semifinals since Virginia Wade in 1978, has a story soaked in sadness.

Her so-called "mind guru," sports psychologist Juan Coto, committed suicide in November. Konta credits him with helping her both in tennis and life.

"He was someone who approached his work with me in a very holistic manner," Konta said. "It was more about me as a human being than necessarily a tennis player.

"I think he did a tremendous job with me in working on my happiness as a person, as a human being, as dealing with life in general. In turn, [he] looked to help me enjoy something that I've loved since I was a little girl, and to try to be the best at that."


But Konta stopped short of saying it was Coto who got her to this point.

"I'd like to think that my success is my own, and it's something that — and actually that's what he said, as well," she said. "The work, I do the work. I bear the consequences of everything that I do, the wins and the losses."

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