Stefanos Tsitsipas withdrew from the ATP Finals with a back injury on Tuesday after playing only three games of his second match in Turin, handing Holger Rune the victory.
Tsitsipas, the 2019 champion, was trailing 2-1 in the opening set when he had a lengthy conversation with his trainer before slowly getting to his feet, shaking his head and walking over to shake Rune’s hand.
That was after only 17 minutes of play and led to boos from the crowd in Turin, which instead had to settle for an exhibition match between alternates Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz.
“My apologies to all the fans and the crowd that came to support me today and watch the match. I’m really gutted that I wasn’t able to finish the match,” Tsitsipas said. “My doctors and the countless visits that I had in the last few days suggested that I play, they gave me the green light to go and try.
“Unfortunately I felt terrible on the court … I hate retiring from matches, I’m not that kind of person that likes leaving mid-match and it kills me not to be able to finish this tournament, the one that I’ve prepped for for so long, made sure that I’m completely fit to perform at my best and show my capacities as a player.”
Tsitsipas, who lost to Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday, had cut short a practice session on Friday because of an apparent physical issue but the Greek player said he was “absolutely fine.”
Hurkacz will replace Tsitsipas and play top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Thursday.
Rune lost his opener to Djokovic 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3 but the Dane now leads the green group ahead of Djokovic’s match against Sinner.
“For sure (not the way I wanted to win). It is very unfortunate,” Rune said. “You could see in the first service game, he was not serving as full as he can.
“For sure, something was up and when he called the physio I knew. It’s a long season, I wish him all the best.”
Tsitsipas also withdrew from the tournament in 2021 after losing his opening match.
“It’s very unfortunate. I’ve had two editions here in Turin where I had to withdraw from the tournament,” Tsitsipas said. “Never happened to me before that I had to withdraw. Very, very few occasions that I can recall on that matter.
“It definitely hurts me a lot because this is the tournament that means the most to me, including the Grand Slams. I’m not able to compete the way I want to compete.”