Madrid: World No 1 Novak Djokovic pulled out of the Madrid Masters on Saturday according to the competition’s organisers.
“Novak Djokovic is unable to compete at the Madrid Open,” the organisers wrote on Instagram ahead of the tournament, which starts on April 26.
Djokovic’s withdrawal, thought to be related to an elbow problem he has been suffering from, is a blow to his preparations for the French Open, which starts at the end of May.
The Serb, 35, suffered a straight-set defeat by compatriot Dusan Lajovic in the quarter-finals at Banja Luka in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday.
Djokovic was beaten by underdog Lorenzo Musetti at the Monte Carlo Masters earlier in April and said ahead of the Srpska Open that his elbow was “not in an ideal condition”.
Neither Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, joint record 22-time Grand Slam champions, will take part in Madrid, a key part of the preparation for Roland Garros.
Djokovic missed tournaments earlier this year at Indian Wells and Miami, over his refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccination.
“I was many levels below what I want,” said the two-time French Open champion on Friday, after his defeat by world No 70 Lajovic.
“Playing like that, I can’t win against opponents who are so solid on this surface. But what can I do? It’s simply sport. I was trying but it wasn’t working.
“I didn’t feel very good physically on court. My legs were slow, I missed a lot of balls. I played well at times, but generally well below standard.”
The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the season, begins on May 28.
“I hope to get into tip top shape for Roland Garros. I want to play my best tennis there,” said Djokovic, who has also been struggling with an elbow injury.
“The conditions are totally different there in comparison with Monte Carlo and Banja Luka. There are still several weeks to practice and play.
“In the previous seasons, I’ve always had an unsatisfying and slow start on clay and then played much better tennis in the final stages. I hope to repeat the same pattern this year.”