Dubai - Juan Martin Del Potro, the former US Open champion who became the ATP Tour's comeback player of the year after recovering from a career-threatening wrist injury, has been struck down by a similar injury again.
The courageous and usually hard-hitting Argentine lasted little more than an hour and only one set in the Dubai Open, before requiring lengthy treatment after which he called it quits.
The beneficiary was Somdev Devvarman, whose entry as a wild card made him hugely popular here with the ex-patriot crowd which yelled him through the saving of three set points to snatch the only set 7-6 (7-3).
But the real focus of attention was Del Potro who, having battled from around 500 in the world rankings back into the top five, may be fearing a similar plunge again.
Disappointing tournaments in Melbourne, Rotterdam, and now in the first round here have brought him back to the question as to whether he requires another operation - on the left wrist now, it was the right last time - and call quits on the season as well.
"It's difficult to speak with you at the moment," said Del Potro, fighting to keep control of his emotions. "I am coming here out of respect, and I will let you know tonight or tomorrow what my injury is and what my plans will be.
The wrist had been hurting before Del Potro came to this first round match and he volunteered that he had had to make a "big effort" to play at all. His subsequent remarks raised doubts as to whether this decision had been wise.
"I don't feel really well," he admitted. "My wrist is hurting a lot, and, you know, everybody knows what's happen to me four years ago with my other wrist.
"It was really tough to play today and I tried everything, but it's very difficult to play in these conditions (windy) you know. I was playing slices and I could not be the player I would like to be.
"It's hurting all the time, sometimes less and sometimes a little more. But it's hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time. He's trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what is my limit playing on court. Today was enough.
"Now I will see what he says for the future, and I will let you know very soon what's my plans are gonna be. I cannot say that (it will be surgery) yet - but I'm feeling similar pains to the other hand and what I felt four years ago.
"It's not really positive for my future. But I will do whatever the doctor says and I will have to be as strong as ever."
Del Potro departed clinging to the most positive thoughts he could muster - that the doctor, the same one who performed the previous operation, has, until now, been encouraging him to play.
He will fly to the United States and has two weeks in which to decide whether it is worth trying again at Indian Wells, or whether a rest or surgery are required.
Devvarman had cottoned on to the injury at 3-3 and thereafter gave Del Potro plenty of backhands to hit, knowing he would mostly only slice the ball because hitting topspins was painful.
The Indian also offered condolences, and can look forward to performing before an even bigger crowd, as his next opponent is also a wild card, the Tunisian Malek Jaziri, who is popular with Muslim spectators.
Jaziri caused a surprise by saving five match points to beat Igor Sijsling, the world number 53 from The Netherlands, by 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).
Results from the second day of the ATP Dubai Open on Tuesday
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x5) bt Victor Hanescu (ROM) 6-2, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (SRB) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-3, 6-3
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x6) bt Michal Przysiezny (POL) 6-3, 6-4
Luks Rosol (CZE) bt Daniel Brands (GER) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Tomas Berdych (CZE x3) bt Marius Copil (ROM) 6-3, 6-4
Radek Stepanek (CZE) bt Michael Russell (USA) 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
Somdev Devvarman (IND) bt Juan Martn Del Potro (ARG x2) 7-6 (7/3), 0-0, retired
Malek Jaziri (TUN) bt Igor Sijsling (NED) 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
James Ward (GBR) bt Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (4/7), 6-2