Novak Djokovic has announced his surprise withdrawal from the Cincinnati Masters and will head into the US Open without playing a lead-up event.
Seeking to complete a calendar-year grand slam at Flushing Meadows, the World No.1 said he needed more recovery time after the Tokyo Olympics.
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Level with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal on the all-time men's record of 20 grand slam titles, Djokovic can become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in one year.
But he appears set to head into the US Open without playing a traditional warmup tournament after also withdrawing from the Toronto hard-court event.
Djokovic lost to Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics before going down to Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal match.
He later withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze medal match, revealing he'd suffered a shoulder injury.
"I am taking a bit longer to recover and recuperate after quite a taxing journey from Australia to Tokyo," Djokovic posted on social media.
"Sadly, that means I won't be ready to compete in Cincinnati this year.
"So I'll turn my focus and attention to US Open and spend some more time with family. See you in New York soon!"
Djokovic is a two-time winner of the Cincinnati event, including last year when it was played in New York due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cincinnati field still features five former champions, including Nadal, 2019 winner Daniil Medvedev, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov and two-time winner Andy Murray.
Novak Djokovic suffered 'multiple injuries' at Olympics
Speaking to reporters at the Olympics last month, Djokovic made the startling admission that he suffered 'multiple injuries' in Tokyo.
“I am dealing with injuries. Not one, more than one," he said in a post-match press conference.
"I hope that it won’t stop me from going to the US Open, which is my next big goal.
“I apologise to all the fans in Serbia who I have disappointed. I know everyone expected a medal, I did too.
"I feel bad for (doubles partner Nina Stojanovic) because we did not fight for a medal in mixed, but my body said ’enough’.
"The consequences physically hopefully will not create a problem for me for the US Open, but that's something that I'm not sure about right now.
“I have played under medications and abnormal pain and exhaustion.
"But again, my heart is in the right place, because I know that I gave my all. I love to play for my country. Unfortunately, I did not get the result I wanted, but that is sport, we move on."
Djokovic headed to the Olympics with the chance to become the second player in history to win all four majors and an Olympic gold medal in the same year.
He had been eyeing two gold medals when he played the singles and mixed doubles semi-finals last Friday.
But less than 24 hours later his hopes for gold were ended and he was forced to leave the Ariake Tennis Park without a medal of any colour.
The Serbian star's best result at the Olympics remains the bronze medal he won in Beijing in 2008.
See you soon, Novak!
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 9, 2021
Djokovic has won major tournaments without a lead-in event before, and I can understand this decision.
The fresher he is in New York, the better. But still, pulling out of Cincinnati adds another element of intrigue to his quest for completing The Grand Slam at the US Open. https://t.co/gpyOcRiDag
— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) August 9, 2021
The big three Djoker, Nadal, Federer not looking like good bets to either be in or win the US Open. Feel better Djoker! 💞
— PirateOwlandOwlet (@OwlandOwlet) August 9, 2021
As we look at the decimated condition of the tours and the physical toll on the players, I reiterate:
Winter. Olympic. Tennis.
Fitting it into a summer calendar causes all sorts of disruptions and distortions, Djokovic being the latest casualty in Cincinnati.
This isn't working
— Matt Zemek (@mzemek) August 9, 2021
No Novak Djokovic at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati next week 🚨
Looks like he’s really trying to prep himself well to snatch that calendar Slam in NYC! 👀 https://t.co/kHo8HfcWO0
— Yasmin Stefanie Syed (@yasminstefsyed) August 9, 2021
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