Novak Djokovic has decided to end his 2017 season to rest and recover from an ongoing elbow injury, which has hampered him for the past 18 months. The Serb has had a difficult season that has seen him slip to number five in the rankings just one year after holding the number one ranking.
In a statement, Djokovic said doctors told him this was the best thing he could do to return at full strength:
"All the doctors I've consulted, and all the specialists I have visited, in Serbia and all over the world, have agreed that this injury requires rest. A prolonged break from the sport is inevitable.
He continued to say:"I'll do whatever it takes to recover. I will use the upcoming period to strengthen my body and also to improve certain tennis elements that I have not been able to work on over the past years, due to a demanding schedule.
“This is one of those injuries where nothing can really help instantly. You just have to allow natural rehabilitation to take its course. Professionally, this is not, obviously, an easy decision for me.”
Djokovic talks about decision in hometown
Speaking at a press conference in his hometown of Belgrade on Wednesday, the 12-time Grand Slam champion addressed a host of reporters on his decision:
"It is the most important for me to recover, to be able to play injury free for as long as possible, to compete in the sport that has given me so much, the sport I love.
"Of course I want to return to the winning form, to win again, to win the trophies. But now it is not the time to talk about it. At this point, I'm focusing on recovery."
Several streaks, milestones ending
With his absence from the year's final major, the U.S. Open, Djokovic will snap a streak of 51 straight Grand Slam tournaments played, the third longest active streak and seventh longest in history. He has participated in every major since the 2005 Australian Open.
Djokovic will also not reach a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2009 and will miss out on a Slam semifinal for the first time since 2006: "The remarkable series has come to an end. My body has its limits, and I have to respect that and be grateful for all that I have achieved so far."
Agassi to remain as Djokovic's coach
When the Serb decides to return to the tour in 2018, eight-time major champion will once again be at the helm for Djokovic after hiring him on a part-time basis during this year's French Open.
"He supports my decision to take a break, and remains my head coach," Djokovic said. "He is going to help me get back into shape and bounce back strong after the recovery period."
Djokovic has indicated he plans to play a warmup event before Melbourne on his return next year. The Serb won Doha this year before the Australian Open began.