Former US Open winner Stan Wawrinka hinted that he was getting closer to hanging up his racket after being forced to retire mid-match during his opening round contest at the hardcourt major on Monday against French lucky loser Corentin Moutet.
Wawrinka, 37, had twice called the trainer on court to tend to his finger and was trailing 6-4 7-6(7) when he signalled he could no longer continue against Moutet, who managed to make the main draw despite losing in the qualifying stage.
It was the sixth straight defeat for the three-time major champion, who lifted his last Grand Slam trophy at Flushing Meadows in 2016.
"I'm getting closer to the end. That's for sure. It's a reality," Wawrinka told reporters.
"I was injured for more than a year. It took me a while to feel much better physically and tennis-wise. I still love the game and want to compete a bit longer before stopping."
Wawrinka returned to the tennis circuit in March after over a year on the sidelines following two surgeries on his left foot. But he has failed to reprise his old form and suffered a slew of first round exits at tournaments. But the Swiss is not giving up hope, yet.
"For me as much as I enjoy and love what I'm doing, I want to keep going a little bit for sure," Wawrinka added. "Will need to have some result too, because you cannot just keep being on tour and losing.
"But I see that I'm playing and feeling better. Even if I'm not winning yet, I know I will be back winning matches soon. That's for sure. I will never be able to play as well as I did in my career, because I'm getting older, but I believe that I still have some good and big results in me, and that's why I keep gonna fight a little bit."
Dominic Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion, is another player who has been forced to spend a long time on the sidelines and the Austrian also suffered an early exit on Monday against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
Thiem, who reached the Australian Open final in 2020 and the title rounds at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019, injured his wrist in June 2021 and came back to the Tour in March.
The 28-year-old, a former world number three, is currently ranked 211th and needed a wildcard to play at Flushing Meadows, where he won his maiden major title on his previous visit. "I think that it was not bad at all," Thiem said.
"A lot of good things to take from this match. I think everybody who thought that I was the favourite today was far away from reality."
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