INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Top-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic was gifted a place in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals when Australian Bernard Tomic pulled out of their quarter-final on Thursday, citing a back injury.
Tomic, who is also struggling with a painful wisdom tooth, had reached the last eight at an elite ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time with a 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory over compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in the previous round.
World number one Djokovic, who is bidding for a fourth Indian Wells crown, will take on Andy Murray in the semi-finals, the Scot having advanced with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez on Thursday.
“I have a lot of pain today on this wisdom tooth and it’s causing a lot of stuff,” Tomic, who was seeded 32nd at Indian Wells, told reporters. “On the right side of my face and neck it’s really inflamed.
“I went to hit today and my back and low back felt ... I couldn’t even move. On top of that, I had pain on this side of the face, which is not very good because it’s tough for me to even breathe this side,” he said, pointing at his right cheek.
“I’m not functioning on this side well. I’ve been on medication the last few days for the infected area, my wisdom tooth.”
Tomic, who had made a strong start to this season by reaching the quarter-finals in six of his first seven tournaments, said he first experienced the back pain in Memphis last month.
“It was lower back connecting to the hip area and the groin,” said the 22-year-old, an outstanding junior player who has gone on to win two ATP World Tour titles. “I have been playing a lot of matches on it, and it’s just very painful now.
“It was a tough match for me yesterday, playing last night with Thanasi under the medication that I was on, the antibiotics. It made me feel like I have no energy today.”
Tomic, who upset eighth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in the third round at Indian Wells, is considering skipping the Miami Open which starts on March 25.
“If there is an opportunity to get that wisdom tooth out before Miami, I probably won’t play Miami,” he said. “It will come down to next few days before I decide.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Keating/Larry Fine