By Jane Voigt
Key Biscayne, Fla. — Hours before his first-ever semifinal match at the ATP Masters Sony Open, Kei Nishikori pulled out with a groin injury.
“Very sorry to say that I have to pull out today,” Nishikori posted to Twitter. “Very disappointed and I am obviously sorry for any fans that wanted to come out for this match.”
Kei Nishikori and Adam Barrett, Sony Open Tournament Director, in the impromptu press conference this afternoon that announced Kei’s withdrawal from the tournament. “This was my best tournament,” Kei said, his disappointment palpable.
Nishikori’s first felt the injury about a month ago. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., he lost to Tommy Haas in the third round. In Delray Beach the following week, Nishikori retired in his second-round match after playing six games.
“I had it before in Indian Wells and Delray,” Nishikori admitted.
However in early February, Kei won Memphis when he defeated Ivo Karlovic. The Japanese sensation, who grew up in Bradenton, Fla., under the tutelage of Nick Bollettieri, won a second-set tiebreak at zero against the Croatian who measures six-ten and serves aces as if they were little cakes at tea time.
Here in Miami, his brilliance has continued to shine until today.
He defeated Grigor Dimitrov, one of the hottest up-and-comers on the ATP Tour, 76(1) 75. Next, Kei saved four match points against David Ferrer, last year’s runner-up, in a third-set tiebreak, 76(7) 26 76(9). Then, if beating the most tenacious Ferrer wasn’t enough, Nishikori defeated Roger Federer, 36 75 64. It was his second consecutive win over Federer.
“I really felt [the injury] against Roger,” Nishikori told the press. “It’s really sad. I’m playing really well, beating Dimitrov, David and Roger. I was really excited to play here in the semifinal, but unfortunately I couldn’t move side to side. I tried to warmup today, but couldn’t move and decided not to play.”
Nishikori plans to leave for Japan as soon as possible to see his doctors. He does not know how badly he is injured.
“It’s not surgery bad, but I’m feeling it so I’m going to see a doctor.”
Next up on his schedule is Davis Cup. Japan defeated Canada in first-round action of World Group competition in January. Nishikori won his matches against Peter Polansky and Frank Dancevic.
“I don’t know if I’ll play [Davis Cup] or not,” Kei added.
Since 2008, one year after he turned pro, Nishikori has withdrawn or retired from matches 12 times, including today. He is not new to the injured reserve list. According to matchstat.com, Nishikori has injured his hip, side, left knee, right ankle, lower back, groin, abdomen and right elbow. The elbow injury from 2009 almost ended his career.
“‘I wondered if I could continue to play,'” Kei told sports.ndtv.com, after winning The Japan Open in 2013. “‘My ranking went down to over 100. But every player has to cope with an injury. I just want to keep myself healthy.'”
Because of the withdrawal, Novak Djokovic (No. 2) advanced to the finals. He has played two rounds this week.
Adam Barrett, Sony Open Tournament Director, did not know where Novak was at the time of the announcement. The Serbian will play either Rafael Nadal or Tomas Berdych. Their semifinal is scheduled for 7 p.m. this evening.
“Our concern was to notify our fans and guests, and the media, as soon as possible,” Barrett said. “We wanted to tell people on their way to the tournament to try to let them know before they come.”
The tournament does not have a ticket refund policy, or a ticket exchange policy.
“We exchange tickets, but it will be for next year,” Barrett said. “We don’t have enough tickets for tonight’s session. It’s the same policy we had two years ago when Rafael withdrew from the semifinals.”
Fans inside the stadium emptied quickly, after hearing the news. The session did yield one match … Wildcards Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki defeated the No. 5 seeded team of Cara Black and Sania Mirza to advance to the women’s doubles final. It will played Sunday at noon immediately before the men’s singles final.
Mar 28, 2014 2:42 PM