Juan Martin Del Potro faces an uncertain future after admitting he may have to undergo wrist surgery for the second time in his career.
The Argentine's comments came after he was forced to retire from his opening round clash against Somdev Devvarman at the Dubai Open.
The former US Open champion lasted little more than an hour and only one set, before requiring lengthy treatment after which he called it quits.
Del Potro, who became the ATP Tour's comeback player of the year in 2011 after recovering from a career-threatening right wrist injury, has been struck down by a similar problem, but with his left wrist.
Following disappointing tournaments in Melbourne, Rotterdam, and now Dubai, the 25-year-old is now questioning whether he requires another operation.
"Now I will see what he says for the future, and I will let you know very soon what my plans are going to be," said the world No 5.
"I cannot say that (it will be surgery) yet - but I'm feeling similar pains to the other hand and what I felt four years ago.
"It's not really positive for my future. But I will do whatever the doctor says and I will have to be as strong as ever.
"I don't feel really well," he admitted. "My wrist is hurting a lot, and, you know, everybody knows what's happened to me four years ago with my other wrist.
"It was really tough to play today and I tried everything, but it's very difficult to play in these conditions (windy) you know. I was playing slices and I could not be the player I would like to be.
"It's hurting all the time, sometimes less and sometimes a little more. But it's hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time. He's trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what is my limit playing on court. Today was enough."
Meanwhile, wildcard James Ward continued his good form by battling through to the second round with victory over Teymuraz Gabashvili.
The British No 3 saw off his Russian opponent in two hours 20 minutes with a 2-6 6-4 7-6 (8/6) win.
Another wildcard, Tunisian Malek Jaziri caused a surprise by saving five match points to beat Igor Sijsling, the world No 53, 0-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4).
There were no problems for top seed Novak Djokovic who produced a hard-hitting, straight sets victory over Uzbek player Denis Istomin 6-3 6-3.
"My game isn't where I want it to be," admitted Djokovic, who is targeting a record-equalling fifth Dubai title. "But I am still happy with this start.
"It's just the match situation - it's quite different from the practice court. You have thousands of people watching you and it can be mentally tough.
"And not having competed for so long, it takes a toll. My body feels it a little bit. But I will get back to work. It's work and I love it at the same time."
Djokovic next plays Roberto Bautista Agut, the world No 51 from Spain.
Czech third seed Tomas Berdych, who reached the final last year, beat Marius Copil from Romania 6-3 6-4 while last week's Marseille Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated another Romanian, Victor Hanescu, 6-2 6-4.
Elsewhere, veteran Radek Stepanek booked a meeting with Roger Federer following a 5-7 6-3 6-1 win over Michael Russell.