Barcelona: Novak Djokovic lost again, this time falling to 140th-ranked Martin Klizan 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 on Wednesday in the second round of the Barcelona Open.
Djokovic, trying to return to form after a lingering right elbow injury, hasn’t made it past the last 16 in five tournaments this year.
The 12th-ranked Serb got off to a slow start but rebounded to force a third set. He was then broken while trailing 4-3, allowing Klizan to serve out for the victory.
Djokovic decided to play in Barcelona after losing to Dominic Thiem in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters. He also lost in the second round in Miami and in Indian Wells, and failed to advance past the last 16 at the Australian Open.
Kei Nishikori had earlier retired during his opening match against Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Nishikori, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Masters final on Sunday, pulled out after conceding the first set to Garcia-Lopez 6-3.
Fatigue, and pain in his troublesome right wrist, appeared to prompt the withdrawal from Japan’s world No. 22, who will now look to regain fitness ahead of the French Open next month.
“My expectations grew in Monte Carlo, despite losing to Nadal,” Nishikori told reporters after the match.
“However, I started feeling discomfort again during the first set and I did not want to take any risks.”
It completes a double setback for Asian players as Hyeon Chung, the South Korean who was a surprise semi-finalist at this year’s Australian Open, withdrew before play in Barcelona even began.
Tennis corruption rampant at lower levels: report
Tennis faces “very significant” integrity problems, particularly at the lower levels of the sport, caused by the sharp increase in internet betting, an independent report concluded in its interim finding on Wednesday.
The Interim Report of the Independent Review of Integrity said that its two-year investigation had not revealed widespread corruption at the highest levels of the professional game globally although “there is nonetheless evidence of some issues at these levels”.
Among its recommendations are a review of appearance fees and the ranking system and a halt to the sale of sporting data by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) at the low-level Futures events.
It also recommended greater monitoring of the lower levels where one investigator said there were a “tsunami” of problems.
The Review was commissioned by tennis’ major bodies (ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slam Board) in 2016 following a report by the BBC and BuzzFeed News which claimed 16 players ranked in the world’s top 50 had been flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions that matches had been thrown.