Novak Djokovic announcement leaves tennis fans saddened after US Open triumph

The World No.1 will take an extended break that puts him in danger of losing the top spot to Carlos Alcaraz.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the US Open and playing the Davis Cup.
Novak Djokovic will take a break for several weeks after winning the US Open and playing the Davis Cup. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic has announced he won't be playing the Shanghai Masters next month and will take a break from the ATP Tour for a number of weeks. The 36-year-old won his 24th grand slam title at the US Open last week, before linking up with the Serbian team at the Davis Cup and helping them advance to the finals in November.

But the Serbian star announced on social media on Sunday that he won't be playing the ATP 1000 event in Shanghai (starting October 2), leaving the door open for Carlos Alcaraz to reclaim the World No.1 ranking. Djokovic had already announced he won't be playing the Laver Cup this year (from September 22-24), and won’t be defending his title at the Astana Open in Kazakhstan from September 27.

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The Shanghai Masters kicks off in early October, but Djokovic has opted to skip the event to rest and recover. “Over the years, some of the best support I receive anywhere in the world is in China," he tweeted. "Shanghai has always been one of my favourite tournaments in the season. I will be missing my Nole Fam in China. I hope that I can come back to China in the future and play in front of all of you again."

Novak Djokovic in battle with Carlos Alcaraz for No.1 ranking

Djokovic is now expected to take a break for several weeks before returning for the Paris Masters on October 30. He will then take part in the season-ending ATP Finals in November, before turning his attention to the 2024 season and Australian Open in January. It remains unclear if Djokovic will make himself available for the Davis Cup finals, to be held in Malaga in November.

With Djokovic out of action for the next six weeks, he faces the possibility of losing the No.1 ranking to Alcaraz. Djokovic has a lot of rankings points to defend post-US Open, while Alcaraz doesn't have many at all.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here at the Shanghai Masters in 2019.
Novak Djokovic at the Shanghai Masters in 2019. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Djokovic's US Open triumph saw him open up a 3260-point lead over Alcaraz at the top of the ATP rankings, but he will drop 750 points when he misses tournaments in Astana and Tel Aviv. Alcaraz, who has no points to defend until October 24, is scheduled to play the China Open from September 24, as well as the Shanghai Masters. If he wins both titles he would narrow the gap significantly.

Tennis fans had mixed reactions to the news of Djokovic's withdrawal from Shanghai. While some praised him for taking a well-earned break, others were saddened they won't see him for six weeks.

Novak Djokovic has no plans to retire from tennis just yet

Speaking after his historic triumph at the US Open, which saw him extend his lead over Rafa Nadal (22) and Roger Federer (20) on the men's all-time grand slam list, Djokovic flagged that he would have to alter his schedule as the sun comes down on his career. Coach Goran Ivanisevic made the staggering claim that Djokovic could play on until the LA Olympics in 2028 (when Djokovic would be 41).

"Occasionally asking myself, 'Why do I need this still at this stage after all I have done', you know? How long do I want to keep going? I do have these questions in my head," he said in his post-tournament press conference. "Knowing that I play at such a high level still and I win the biggest tournaments in this sport ... I don't want to leave this sport if I'm still at the top.

"I don't put any number right now in my mind on how many slams I want to win until the end of my career. I don't really have any number. I'll continue to prioritise them as my most important tournaments and where I want to play the best tennis. So that will not change. That will stay the same in the next season or I don't know how many more seasons I have in my legs. So let's see.

"I was probably not thinking so intensely and concretely about the history of the weeks at No.1 or most slams until maybe three years ago. Then I realised, OK, I'm quite close for weeks in No.1. I also have a pretty good chance at the grand slams (record) if I keep healthy and if I'm playing well. Of course the slams at that point seemed a little bit less reachable than weeks of No.1, but I believed. I believed that I'll make it."

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