Croatian ninth seed Marin Cilic reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the third year running after Kei Nishikori quit with a rib injury midway through their fourth round match on Monday.
Nishikori was trailing 6-1 5-1 when he decided to follow the advice of his coach Michael Chang, who could be heard saying “Don’t push it, it’s not worth it.”
The Japanese fifth seed, who swallowed a pill given by the trainer at the previous change of ends, shook his head at the umpire to indicate he could not longer continue before going up to Cilic to shake hands.
“It was too much pain I could not really compete today. Every point I played it got worse. I did not want to but I had to retire,” Nishikori told a news conference.
Cilic’s serving was on fire during the first set as he blasted down 12 aces, including four in the first game, and dropped only two points on serve.
He won 26 out of 33 points contested as Nishikori surrendered the set in only 16 minutes.
The 2014 U.S. Open champion, who beat his Japanese rival in Flushing Meadows to win his only grand slam title, could not keep up the same intensity in the second set as Nishikori broke back to level at 1-1.
But from then on Nishikori failed to win a game and, after dropping serve for the third time in the set, with a double fault, he could not hide his despair.
While Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, indicated with his hands to ‘cut it’, Nishikori covered his eyes before burying his head under a towel as he slumped into his chair.
When the trainer came on court and handed a pill to Nishikori, it was clear that Asia’s number one player was injured and one game later it was all over as muted applause greeted Cilic’s passage into the last eight.