Novak Djokovic is an early casualty of the Madrid Open, he has been forced to withdraw from the tournament on day one due to injury.
The arm problem that went some way to securing his exit from the Monte Carlo Masters has flared up again, before he was due to play his second-round match, after receiving a bye through round one.
A loss in the semi-final to Roger Federer at the principality came with the 26-year-old's arm and wrist under heavy bandaging.
There were fears at the time that it could keep him out of the French Open and Wimbledon but the Serbian star dispelled that trail of thought by announcing he would play in Madrid.
However, question marks over his participation at the summer Grand Slams will be raised again with this setback, despite his hopes of a return at the Rome Masters.
“I am very sorry for the Madrid tournament and all the Spanish fans to have to pull out of the Mutua Madrid Open,” said Djokovic on the ATP tour website.
“I did everything possible in order to play in Madrid, which is one of the biggest events of the year, but unfortunately my right arm injury has flared up again.
“Now I will take some time to recover and heal my injury, hoping I will be ready for Rome. I look forward to returning to Madrid next year.”
It certainly is not the news that fans of the world no.2 were hoping for. Before this injury, Djokovic stormed to successive Masters wins on the American hard courts of Indian Wells and Miami.
The right-hander will have been hoping to repeat the trick in two back-to-back clay events in Spain and Rome in preparation for the upcoming Grand Slam at Roland Garros.
The six-time major winner has never won on the Paris dirt, though, and this injury is hardly ideal as he looks to break that duck and achieve the Career Grand Slam.
His hopes of returning to the top of the world rankings have also been extinguished for now. A repeat of his 2011 heroics in the Spanish capital, coupled with an exit for Rafael Nadal before the quarter-final, would have seen him back on the summit for a third time.
However, Djokovic's pain is his competitors' gain. Main rival Nadal will be relieved to see the back of the man who has beaten him in their last three finals, they were on course to meet again.
Meanwhile the likes of Roger Federer and the returning Andy Murray will have one less man to worry about.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the news is the in-form Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss winner of Monte Carlo was pitted in the same half of the draw as Djokovic. Now he will have a clearer run to a potential final which could see him land a second successive Masters 1000 trophy.
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