DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro retired in his first-round match against Somdev Devvarman of India after losing the first-set tiebreaker 7-6 (3) at the Dubai Championships on Tuesday.
Since winning the Sydney title last month, del Potro has been struggling with a left wrist injury that has conjured up memories of similar pain he experienced in his right wrist four years ago.
In 2010, the year after he won the U.S. Open, he played only three tournaments before and after surgery on his right wrist.
Del Potro was fighting back tears in Dubai when he came to talk to the media after his retirement.
“I don’t feel really well,” he said. “My wrist is hurting a lot and everybody knows what happened to me four years ago with my other wrist.
“It was really tough to play today. I tried everything. I cannot be the player I would like to be.”
Having felt the pain in his left wrist during the Australian Open, del Potro went at the end of January to consult with Dr. Richard Berger, who performed his right wrist surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The doctor recommended a course of physical therapy.
Del Potro plans to head straight to the Mayo Clinic for another consultation.
It was evident as the match went on that del Potro was having difficulty coming over the ball on his backhand during the 67-minute first set.
The Argentine had three set points at 0-40 on Devvarman’s serve in the 12th game, but the 78th-ranked Indian won the next five points to force the tiebreaker.
When asked if he would’ve kept playing if he won the first set, del Potro said, “I don’t think so, no. It was hurting too much.”
Devvarman, a wild card who won a challenger in New Delhi last week, hit a service winner on his third set point in the tiebreaker. That proved to be the final point of the match.
“It’s unfortunate, especially for a guy like him,” Devvarman said. “I realized he wasn’t comfortable hitting backhands and I tried to make him hit as many as I could, and he wasn’t really hitting over it so I knew he wasn’t happy.”
Third-seeded Tomas Berdych extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Romanian qualifier Marius Copil earlier.
Except for losing to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open semifinals, Berdych has won 12 of his last 13 matches.
Berdych, who reached the final here last year, won the Rotterdam title two weeks ago.
“I really like to improve in each match,” Berdych said.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic played Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan late Tuesday.