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Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Roland Garros, Jannik Sinner Will Be New No. 1

Photo credit: Internazionali BNL d’Italia Facebook

Novak Djokovic’s reign is over.

Reigning Roland Garros champion Djokovic officially withdrew from the French Open today due to the right knee injury he sustained his heroic 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 comeback conquest of Francisco Cerundolo in a four hour, 39-minute fight to reach his 18th Roland Garros quarterfinal in 20 career appearances.

The 37-year-old Serbian superstar suffered a torn medial meniscus in his right knee forcing him out of the French Open.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion’s withdrawal sends two-time French Open finalist Casper Ruud into the semifinals on a walkover.

The seventh-seeded Ruud will face either Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev or 11th-seeded Aussie Alex de Minaur for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic’s departure signals a seismic shift in the sport.

World No. 2 Jannik Sinner, who is chasing his second straight Grand Slam crown in Paris, will surpass Djokovic as new world No. 1 when the rankings are release on Monday.

It’s a historic rise for Sinner, who dethroned Djokovic in a four-set semifinal win in Melbourne en route to his maiden major at the Australian Open.

Sinner becomes the first Italian man to rise to world No. 1 and the 29th man to ascend to the top spot since the advent of the ATP rankings.

“It represents a great result of work ethic,” Sinner told Tennis Channel’s Jon Wertheim afterward. “It was one of our goals this year, but the most important goal is to always improve as a player and as a person, surrounding myself with great people and that’s it.

“I think I can be very happy and pleased with what I’m doing and what my team is doing. Just looking forward to semis at the moment. It’s not, for sure, the way I wanted to become No. 1 as Novak was retiring, but in the last period I played some really good tennis. I’m happy to be in that position. It’s something new coming up for me. Its something good, so I’m very happy.”

Remarkably, Djokovic completed a gritty comeback win over Cerundolo while playing with a torn meniscus, a testament to his dedication.

The question is: Can Djokovic recover for Wimbledon and/or the Paris Olympic Games, which start next month at Roland Garros?

Only three former French Open champions—14-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka and Djokovic— were in the field when the tournament began. Now, all three future Hall of Famers are gone, which means Roland Garros will crown a maiden men’s champion for the first time since Djokovic rallied from a set down to defeat Andy Murray in the 2016 final.

In the aftermath of his second straight marathon win on Monday, Djokovic said he considered retiring during the fourth-round and revealed he had felt discomfort in his right knee for a couple weeks.

“I have had, I would say, slight discomfort, I would call it that way, in the right knee, but I haven’t had an injury that would be concerning me at all,” Djokovic told the media in Paris after his marathon win over Cerundolo. “I was playing a few tournaments with it, and no issues until today.”