Kei Nishikori was dealt yet another injury blow as he was forced to retire during his fourth-round match against Marin Cilic at Wimbledon.
The fifth seed was being implored by coach Michael Chang to stop but continued for almost two sets before pulling the plug at 6-1 5-1 down.
Physical fragility may stop the 26-year-old Japanese fulfilling his huge potential and he revealed his latest problem was a rib injury he first suffered at the warm-up tournament in Halle three weeks ago.
Nishikori said: “It’s been not recovering well these two weeks. After the third round it got worse. Today I was hoping to get better but it was too much pain on the court so I couldn’t really compete today.
“I was thinking about it in the second set and even before the match I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to play 100 per cent. Every point I played it got worse. I didn’t want to but I had to retire.”
The match was a repeat of the US Open final two years ago, which was also won by Cilic, but this was no contest at all.
Despite the result, Nishikori was proud of the fighting spirit he showed, saying: “It was a great tournament for me. With the pain, I fought through these three rounds. It wasn’t easy mentally to stay tough. It was a good lesson for me.”
He now hopes to be ready for the next big tournament, the Rogers Cup in Toronto starting on July 25, which is closely followed by the Olympics and the US Open.
Nishikori said: “I’m going to see how long it’s going to take but I have enough time I think to recover.”
Press Association Sport