Eye problem forces Djokovic to withdraw

Novak Djokovic hopes to make a quick recovery after being forced to retire from the Dubai Championships on Thursday, ending his perfect record in 2016 and a streak of 17 straight finals.

The world No.1, who was playing his first tournament since winning a sixth Australian Open title last month, had lost the first set of his quarter-final against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez before retiring with an eye problem.

“I have had it ever since I arrived in Dubai,” Djokovic said on the ATP website.

“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.”

Djokovic lost his serve in the opening game of the match and had to save three break points to avoid falling 3-0 behind, before calling for the trainer.

The 28-year-old was able to continue without receiving treatment but after the next five games went with serve, Djokovic – who became only the 12th player in the Open era to win 700 singles matches in the previous round – was broken for a second time as Lopez took the set 6-3.

Djokovic held a perfect 14-0 record in 2016 coming into the day, but was more concerned about getting back to full fitness ahead of Serbia’s Davis Cup tie at home to Kazakhstan from March 4-6.

“(My match record) is the least of my thoughts in the moment,” Djokovic said.

“I just hope that this problem will fade away in the next couple of days.

“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.”

Lopez will face Marcos Baghdatis in the semi-finals after the Cypriot had earlier beaten Roberto Bautista-Agut 7-5 6-0, with the other semi-final seeing an eagerly-anticipated clash between Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios.

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