Novak Djokovic in shock fallout before French Open amid huge call on Alex de Minaur

The 24-time major winner has struggled this season.

Novak Djokovic admits he's "worried" about his prospects at the French Open after being bundled out of the semi-finals of the Geneva Open by World No.44 Tomas Machac. The development comes after tennis great Todd Woodbridge predicted fellow Aussie Alex de Minaur would continue his fine form in 2024 and go on his best run yet at Roland Garros.

While the hopes may be high for de Minaur, the same can't be said for defending French Open champion, Djokovic, who heads to Paris for his title defence having not won a single trophy in 2024 - let alone making a final. It's a bizarre reality that the 24-time grand slam winner faces and Djokovic admits he is nowhere near where he wants to be after going down to Machac 6-4 0-6 6-1 in the Geneva Open semi-finals.

Pictured left to right are tennis rivals Alex de Minaur and Novak Djokovic before the French Open.
Tennis rivals Alex de Minaur and Novak Djokovic have been in contrasting form leading into the French Open. Pic: Getty

The Serb unexpectedly took a wild card into the ATP 250 event in the hopes of playing himself into form ahead of the French Open, which gets underway on Sunday night (AEST). But the recently turned 37-year-old leaves Switzerland with more question marks around his form and fitness in 2024, having battled an upset stomach in the 48 hours leading up to his latest defeat.

“Of course I am worried... I haven't been playing good at all this year,” Djokovic replied when asked if he was concerned about his prospects going into a Roland Garros title defence. “[I’ve had] some [good] matches here and there but it is what it is. You have to accept it. I don’t consider myself a favourite there. I’m going to take it match by match and see how far I can go.”

Djokovic has reason for concern after taking the Geneva wildcard off the back of a straight-sets humbling by little-known Chilean Alejandro Tabilo in the round of 32 at the Rome Masters. It continues an uncharacteristically poor run of form for the Serb, who is still yet to reach a final in 2024 - something almost unthinkable when it comes to Djokovic.

Two days before that loss in Rome, Djokovic was struck on the head by a water bottle that fell out of a fan's bag in the stands while the Serb was signing autographs. In Geneva, it was a stomach bug that appeared to hamper the 24-time major winner, although Djokovic didn't want to use the situation to take anything away from Machac, as the Czech surged into his maiden ATP Tour final.

“It was a terrible feeling with stomach and health today... it was not a great night and today as well," Djokovic said after the match. “But I don’t want to take anything away from his win, he deserved it. I don’t know what to think about this match to be honest. I want to forget about it and move on to Paris.”

Seen here, Novak Djokovic playing in the Geneva Open semi-finals.
Novak Djokovic was bundled out of the Geneva Open semi-finals by Czech Tomas Machac (not pictured). Image: AAP

Djokovic will start his French Open title against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round, as he looks to claim a fourth Roland Garros title, and third in four years. He said while the result at Geneva was not he wanted, he hopes to be feeling better both mentally and physically before the French Open gets underway. “I just need to feel better. It’s not enjoyment when you are suffering on the court feeling this way. You’re not able to focus on tennis when you have other stuff happening. I just hope I can be fit and ready and prepared for Roland Garros.”

The question marks around Djokovic are a common theme for many of the other men's favourites, with 14-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal's injury struggles widely known ahead of what is set to be his Roland Garros farewell. Top seeds Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz have also pulled out of recent tournaments with injuries, potentially opening the door for de Minaur to go on a deep run at the tournament.


The Aussie cracked the top 10 for the first time this year but has never been past the second round at Roland Garros before. But Woodbridge is tipping this to be the year for 25-year-old. "Never in men's tennis over the last 15 or 20 years has this tournament been so wide open, and if you look at it like that, if you get the right draw, Alex can go deep," Woodbridge told The Age.

"He's actually had enough wins against top players on clay that if it opens up the right way, he can sneak through. We've had the likes of Pat Rafter reach a semi before on the men's side, so it can be done, but you need a bit of luck. It's not Alex's favourite (surface), but his mindset is as good as anybody." De Minaur plays teenage American and World No.65 Alex Michelsen in the first round.

with agencies