November 12th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Should Djokovic have risked his reputation in Paris?

Novak Djokovic plays a return during his third round win over Victor Troicki in Paris.
Novak Djokovic plays a return during his third round win over Victor Troicki in Paris.

To play, or not to play, that was the question facing Novak Djokovic – or so some thought!

As World No.1, the Serb was entitled to a $2 million bonus if he played all eight World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments and $1.6 million if he played seven of the eight.

Having already missed the Shanghai tournament because of a back injury, Djokovic had to play in Paris, or else he’d end up with nothing -– but then there was that reoccurrence of a shoulder injury in Basel. .

Only Djokovic knew how bad it was. Would he play at Bercy – would he pass – or would he show up, cash in and leave? Speculation was rife that he’d do the latter.

But, hang on. We’re talking about a man who has won over $10 million in prize money alone this year and who has such a terrific image that he’s now thought of as the biggest character in men’s tennis, let alone the stand-out player.

Did we really think he was going to play one point against second round opponent Ivan Dodig and shake hands? Of course not! It would have ruined his reputation and put a black mark on a terrific year.

We’d all be talking about Djokovic the mercenary, not Djokovic the marvel.
Had he not thought he could have won the tournament, I believe he wouldn’t have played.
It’s as simple as that. With the ATP World Tour finals coming up there was no chance he would have risked further injury.

He said at the start of the tournament that this injury wouldn’t worsen by playing, but it might become more inflamed and more painful -– and that’s what happened as Djokovic withdrew before his quarterfinal match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Paris with the same shoulder injury.

In typical fashion, he apologized to the many fans who bought tickets to see him and said quote: "I have pushed myself to the limit by playing and, after the match yesterday, my shoulder got worse. For this reason, I have to put my health first and withdraw - even though my urges as a professional player are making me want to play until the last drop of energy."

So now he has just over a week to recover until the season-ender, which is a final chance for him to stamp his domination on the rest of the field.

Despite the fact that he probably won’t be 100% by then, who would bet against him? Novak has lost just four matches this season – two of which were retirements!

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Filed under:  Tennis • World Sport Analysis
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. ismal

    djokovic had always retirements, many controversials, many when he was clearly outplayed.
    he pull out a nadal... "i only lose when im injured"
    and as with nadal he will get injuried more as time go on

    November 13, 2011 at 1:07 am | Reply
  2. Alehandro

    Who wouldn't play for that much cheese!

    November 13, 2011 at 2:49 am | Reply
  3. Sachiko

    I was very surprised with Djokovic who played in Bercy. Money is not the point. The matter is the area he’s injured. Service is the most important shot in tennis. Injury of right shoulder can be critical for forward career. Do you remember Maria Sharapova few years ago before injury layoff? Service had been one of her most forceful weapons which had brought her dazzling glory and fame. But after suffered with severe shoulder injury, albeit she has showed great comeback to be world no.4 now, floppy serve, bunch of DFs too often drag her down on key moment. I don't want Djokovic to follow that. His amazing 2011 season shouldn't be downplayed just because of short autumn slack but if he will not be in match shape at London, attending Bercy could be taken as ill-advised.

    November 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  4. hannsulu

    he totally deserve the bonus for his fantastic form this year..

    November 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  5. Slobodan

    What is 1.6 m$ in comparison to hundreds of millions if not several billions that ATP is earnig yearly and it is giving peanuts to the players in prize money. Furthermore they (ATP) are killing them with an abnormal and inhuman schedule. Remember what happend to Rafa and his story with injuries. So it's not only Novak that is suffering.
    It is also bad for us, fans and spectators, we are deprived fromfull enjoyment of the sport because of the greedy tennis officials.
    God has blessed Fedderer with a body that don't get injured – that's the main reason why he is best player in history!

    November 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  6. alehandro

    I think you've lost your objectivity there Candy. Greed may not be good but it's a human quality. He turned up for the money. Nothing wrong with that, he'd all but earned it through the season, so why not cash in. The only problem I have with his brief appearance in Paris is the suggestion that he was fit enough to mount a realistic challenge. He wasn't. He came for the coin and it's disingenuous of him or anyone else to say otherwise.

    November 15, 2011 at 1:59 am | Reply
  7. Bojana

    "There are a lot of rumours and gossips about my career. Especially now, when I had the season like this. There are many bad people around trying to ruin my season, but I won't let them to do that."

    November 15, 2011 at 10:53 am | Reply
  8. Margaret Rayner

    I think only Djokovic knows if it was wise to play Bercy. If it has caused more pain to his shoulder, he won't be 100% for the end of year tournament at the O2, which will cost him the final prize. Most of the players are struggling, except Federer who paces himself and doesn't play every tournament now, which is very wise. Murray came back with a flourish and won 2 or 3 tournaments and is now struggling again with an injury – he is all or nothing !!! Next week is going to be very interesting – may the best man win.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:56 am | Reply
  9. Зоран Ристић

    Answer is No. Candy Raid was objective and actual. Some like it hot (Mats W. and EUsport, except B.S), but only R.F, or eventual R.N. The other show respect to all them and special to Nole, for his incredible and unbelievable results in 2011(P.S., J.M, J.C. etc.). If we are talking about professional sport, then we are talking about, talent or God gift, devote to sport, 90% of hard work, discipline, competitions, titles, earnings, injuries and etc. So what’s problem. Nole as No.1 earned that unimportant $1.6 million, playing two matches, not only one point. Who asked for sponsor earnings in 2010, golfer T.W. $100 million (not No.1), R.F. $60 million, R.N. $30 million, S.W…., M.S…, etc. So way not let Nole earn $100 million at the end of this year. And personally I wish T.B. to win the title in O2 if Nole, Rafa, A.M, and M.F. are injured.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  10. EAR

    Will he be able to play at the O2? Such a shame if he is still injured!

    November 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Reply

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