DUBAI, February 25, 2016
World number one Novak Djokovic was forced to retire in his quarterfinals match against Feliciano López at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Thursday. The encounter ended after 33 minutes with the Spaniard leading 6-3 ahead of the start of the second set.
It has been Djokovic’s first retirement since the Davis Cup semi-final tie between Serbia and Argentina in September 2011.
“It’s an eye problem,” Djokovic said. “I have had it ever since I arrived in Dubai. It started with an infection and then severe allergy.”
“It’s gotten worse in the last two days, unfortunately. It’s the first time that I have had such a problem with the eye. It was ultra-sensitive today.
“I’m really sad to finish the tournament this way. I apologise to all the people who came to watch the match. I apologise to the tournament director and those who came out to support me. I’m really sad to end out the tournament this way, but I was forced to,” he continued.
“(My match record) is the least of my thoughts in the moment,” said Djokovic, who is still planning on playing Davis Cup and defending his Indian Wells title. “I just hope that this problem will fade away in the next couple of days.”
López is going to face Marcos Baghdatis next. The 30-year-old from Cyprus upset fourth seed Roberto Bautista-Agut, winning 7-5, 6-0 in one hour and 36 minutes.
“I think he’s playing great tennis,” said Baghdatis of Bautista Agut, who has already won two ATP World Tour titles in 2016. “I knew it would be very tough today physically, mentally. I think that’s why I held strong in that eighth game, because I knew beforehand that it would be tough.
“I’m very happy also with the way I ended it. I think I started playing better and better throughout the second set.”
Two breaks in each sets gave Nick Kyrgios a 6-4, 6-4 win over third seed Tomas Berdych, the second against the Czech within two weeks, as the pair met in the semis of the Open 13 in Marseille last week. The 20-year-old Australian, who making is his debut in Dubai, hit 10 aces and saved all of the four break points he faced to prevail in one hour and 23 minutes.
“It’s difficult to stop him now. He is on a good run and playing really confident,” Berdych had to admit.
“It’ definitely my favourite win from the last couple of weeks,” Kyrgios told.
Kyrgios will face Stan Wawrinka in the semi-final. The second seeded Swiss ousted Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-1. Wawrinka capitalized on five of his eight break points to advance after one hour and 14 minutes.
It will be the first meeting between the two since the “sorry to tell you that”– incident in Montreal 2015.