I’m sorry for the crowd, says injured Djokovic as boos greet end to defence
Novak Djokovic has refused to criticise spectators for their reaction to him retiring injured during his US Open encounter with Stan Wawrinka on Sunday.
Djokovic was forced to surrender his crown as US Open champion after failing to shake off a troublesome shoulder injury, which flared up during the fourth-round match against the Swiss.
The world No1 had been the favourite to defend his title in New York but as he trailed 6-4, 7-5, 2-1, the Serbian called time on his battle with the ongoing pain.
It caused a hostile reaction from the crowd as boos rained down from the stands, prompting an irked Djokovic to give a sarcastic thumbs-up to them as he departed the court.
Trainer Paul Ness tends to Novak Djokovic during his match against Stan Wawrinka Getty Images
“I’m sorry for the crowd,” he said when asked about the incident.
" Obviously they came to see a full match, and it just wasn’t to be. I mean a lot of people didn’t know what’s happening so you cannot blame them."
“The pain was constant for weeks now, some days harder some days with less intensity. Not playing is going to help and speed up the recovery.
“But I don’t want to talk about my injuries. I’ve said that in the past, and I am sticking to that.”
Djokovic shows his despair as he departs the courtGetty Images
The 32-year-old was wary of aggravating his shoulder in the same way he has previously neglected an elbow injury, leading to surgery at the start of 2018, but by pulling out before making matters worse this time around, Djokovic hopes he can make a swift recovery.
The 16-times Grand Slam champion is targeting a return in Tokyo and the end of the month, adding: "Hopefully I am able to do so. The season is not over yet but my Grand Slam season is done for me.
" I won two Grand Slams out of four, I reached the semis in the French so I cannot complain. There are plenty of big tournaments ahead, ranking wise many points to defend for me and trying to hold the No1 ranking spot. "
"I just hope I get the chance to be competing because, if healthy, I like my chances in Asia and the European part of the season.”
Stan Wawrinka consoles Djokovic after he was forced to withdrawGetty Images
His retirement casts doubt over his world No1 status with Rafael Nadal is a position to close the gap heading towards the latter part of the season.
“It’s no secret that I have a desire and a goal to reach the most Grand Slams and reach Roger [Federer]'s record,” the Serb said, with his record still four short of the Swiss' record. “But at the same time it’s a long road ahead hopefully for me.
"I hope I can play for many more years, I’m planning to. I don’t see an end behind the corner at all.”