Less than a month after overcoming a balky back to defeat Rafael Nadal in the final of the 2011 U.S. Open,
Novak Djokovic couldn't fight through the pain during a Davis Cup match.
The world No. 1 was forced to retire from Sunday's match against Juan Del Potro due to a back injury. Djokovic fell to the ground after hitting a wild forehand and writhed in pain as the trainers walked onto the court to attend him. As he got to his feet and walked toward his teammates, Djokovic couldn't help but burst into tears. His withdrawal gave Argentina the win and eliminated Serbia from the competition. He was greeted by Del Potro and hugged by his teammates before sitting down, covering his face with a towel.
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"I feel disappointed to end this tie this way," he told reporters after the match. "My condition was 60 percent of what I had expected."
The 24-year-old downplayed the injury on Monday, saying that it's not as serious as they thought.
It was only Djokovic's third loss of 2011, the second of which came after he retired with sore shoulder against Andy Murray in the Western & Southern Open in August. The injury jeopardizes Djokovic's ability to participate in the events remaining on the calendar in 2011. He has already admitted that may be absent from upcoming competitions in China.
Djokovic currently boasts a 64-3 record this year and has a winning percentage of 95.5 percent, just short of John McEnroe's winning percentage of 96.5 in 1984 when he posted an 82-3 record. Nonetheless, McEnroe still said after the U.S. Open that Djokovic is having "the greatest year in the history of our sport."