BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - David Nalbandian’s comeback from hip surgery nine months ago ended in disappointment on Thursday when he withdrew from the Buenos Aires Open after only two rounds with a leg muscle injury.
The biggest blow for the former world number three, whose planned return to the circuit in Auckland last month was curtailed by a stomach muscle injury, will be to miss Argentina’s March 5-7 Davis Cup tie against Sweden in Stockholm.
The 28-year-old, injured during Wednesday’s gruelling three-set win over Spaniard Daniel Gimeno Traver, had hoped to make up for the loss of U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, whose injured wrist has ruled him out of the Sweden tie.
“It’s a three-millimetre tear in the abductor (muscle) of his right leg,” tournament doctor Walter Mira said after organiser Martin Jaite announced Nalbandian’s withdrawal at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
Nalbandian, who won his home tournament in 2008, played on despite the injury on Wednesday, not wanting to let his fans down and hoping to recover in time for Friday’s quarter-finals.
Mira said his injury would require seven to 10 days of complete rest before a return to practice, which would also rule the Argentine out of next week’s Acapulco tournament.
Fifth seed Albert Montanes, Nalbandian’s next opponent, will go straight through to Saturday’s semi-finals of the claycourt tournament where he will meet either fellow Spaniard David Ferrer or Russian Igor Andreev.
Top seed Ferrer overwhelmed Portugal’s Frederico Gil 6-3 6-0 in 56 minutes in their second round match on Thursday, but the sixth-seeded Russian needed more than two hours to overcome a stiff challenge from Spain’s Marcel Granollers 3-6 6-3 6-4 in sweltering conditions.
Following Nalbandian’s withdrawal, Argentines found some consolation in local hope Horacio Zeballos’s defeat of Spanish wild card and two-time Buenos Aires winner Carlos Moya, 6-4 6-4.
Zeballos next plays one of two Argentines, fourth seed Juan Monaco or Juan Ignacio Chela, who were playing the late match.
Second seed Juan Carlos Ferrero will meet fellow Spaniard Santiago Ventura in the quarter-finals.