Top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic has been forced to retire after losing the first set of his quarterfinal match at the Dubai Tennis Championships against sixth seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
World Number One Struggling
Djokovic started ominously, losing serve to open the match. After López held, Djokovic nearly went down a double break, digging out of a 0-40 hole. At the changeover, trailing 2-1, the Serb called the trainer and doctor for an apparent eye injury to which he refused eye drops. He would continue, but made little impact on López's serve.
Each man held to 5-3 when López was able to break Djokovic a second time and win the set 6-3. It was at this point Djokovic decided to retire from the match. The forced withdrawal snaps the Serb's streak of 17 straight tournament finals, one shy of tying Ivan Lendl's record of 18. Djokovic last lost in a tournament before the final in Doha last year, falling to Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals of that event. The loss by retirement is the Serb's first since 2011, when he was forced to quit down 7-6, 3-0 to Juan Martin Del Potro in what turned out to be the deciding match of Serbia's Davis Cup semifinal loss to Argentina.
Lopez Speaks on Djokovic
A day after recording his 700th career win against Tunisia's Malek Jaziri, the four-time Dubai champion made 18 unforced errors in the nine games of this match. After the match, López said the following: "It's very sad when one of the greatest players ever has to retire from a match like that." Lopez told reporters that Djokovic had told him he was suffering from an eye infection. The lefty will face Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in one of tomorrow's semifinals. Baghdatis defeated fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-0 in an earlier quarterfinal match. Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka will face off in tomorrow's other semifinal.