Spanish tennis star David Ferrer says he's sorry for pulling out of Auckland's Heineken Open, which he's won a record-equalling four times.
On Sunday, Ferrer became the third top 20 player to withdraw from the tournament, joining current champion John Isner and France's Gael Monfils in no-shows - though the world number 10, who would've been the top seed again, still came to Auckland yesterday, to help promote the event, and explain his reasons for pulling out.
Ferrer won the Qatar Open in Doha on the weekend, but suffered from a lower back problem in the final that the 32-year-old says has plagued him for the last year, so if he'd played in Auckland, he definitely wouldn't have been able to compete in the best-of-five-sets matches in Melbourne.
He says if he had lost earlier in Doha, he perhaps still would have come and played in Auckland. Nonetheless, Ferrer's feeling confident after the victory, and he's hoping he'll be able to recover in time to compete at the Melbourne grand slam, which starts next week.
Ferrer heads to Melbourne on Tuesday and will practice only lightly this week, undertaking physio treatment for the next couple of days, before aiming to undertake 30-40 minutes practice on Wednesday with his coach.
He says he's not sure what he'll do at the start of next year yet, though he will only play one tournament before Australian Open.
And as the reigning Qatar Open champion, the tournament will want him back - so whether this is the end for Ferrer's time in Auckland, or not, remains to be seen.