ND Wimbeldon Shoulder Injury

At 1:00 ET today, top-ranked Novak Djokovic will face 14th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with the winner advancing to Wimbledon’s quarterfinal. Djokovic has been there before. As a matter of fact, he’s made the quarterfinals in five straight Wimbledons. He will have his work cut out for him, however, with Tsonga as a very tough opponent; having reached the Wimbledon semis in two recent years.

His toughest opponent, however, might be his own shoulder. In Friday’s match, Djokovic fell, landing on his left arm. He immediately clutched his shoulder and called for a medical trainer. Djokovic said he heard a pop when he stood up, but after a short break, he was cleared to resume play. The shoulder is a very complex joint composed of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone and two separate linings called the synovium and the bursa. If any one of these structures are injured, the smoothly functioning shoulder can produce a pop, snap or click. These sounds can be simply due to everyday use, chronic repetitive stress of sports or because of a significant trauma, fall or accident.

After the match, scans on the shoulder revealed no structural damage. Trainers told Djokovic that he will have to deal with some soreness for a couple days, but aside from that, his shoulder is healthy. Had he separated or dislocated his shoulder, he would not have been able to continue his match. He may have even been prescribed rest in leiu of his next tournament. Serious shoulder injuries can have lasting effects and as such, vigorous rehabilitation is ofteb needed to regain full movement and strength.

It was a scary moment in London but the crisis seems to have been averted. Luckily for Djokovic, the injury is to his left-side. Anti-inflammatories will work to minimize soreness during his match, but he will likely still feel the effects of his fall, especially on backhand shots. No doubt he is experiencing some swelling of the joint. That swelling will be aggravated by movement, and will possibly limit his range of motion during play today. 

Djokovic played through the injury on Friday, and did so successfully. However, for best results, the injury needed to be treated immediately. Icing the shoulder as soon as play concluded would limit the amount of swelling and decrease recovery time. Since the injury occurred in the middle of a match, Djokovic was not able to rest or ice the injury immediately, as he would have wished. Fortunately for Djokovic, the injury is not serious. It could be limiting in the short-term, but hopefully the swelling has decreased to the point that it will not be a distraction during his match with Tsonga.

Tsonga will surely be attacking Djokovic’s left side this afternoon. If Djokovic has any limitations due to the injury, Tsonga will sense it immediately. Decreased range of motion will keep Djokovic from maximizing his range of motion. It will also likely reduce the speed of his swing. If Djokovic can’t perform at his typical ability, it could cause him to second-guess his play. Any hesitation at this elite level of tennis could result in the loss of crucial points. The bottom line is that Djokovic will need to put the injury out of his mind if he wants to defeat Tsonga.