CINCINNATI -- Early on in the men's singles final of the 2011 Western & Southern Open, it was clear that No. 1 Novak Djokovic was not at full strength.
Facing No. 4 Andy Murray, Djokovic was out of energy and without power almost from the very first ball. Murray broke Djokovic's serve in the first game, leaving the Serb's head hanging early on. Though Djokovic broke back to level the set at 3-3, his visible fatigue even early in the match made it tough to think he would have much of a shot of winning.
And when Murray broke Djokovic right back with a 42-stroke rally on break point, the writing seemed to be on the wall.
After Murray finished off the first set 6-4, the trainer came out for Djokovic, working on his shoulder while Djokovic grimaced.
After being broken twice in the first three games of the second set to trail 0-3, Djokovic pulled the ripcord, retiring and giving Murray the seventh Masters/1000 title of his career.
Less than a minute after Djokovic retired, biblical rain poured down over the stadium. Had Djokovic waited, he likely would have been able to take advantage of a break of an hour or so.
Largely because of how the match finished, Murray was subdued in victory. He said he could tell that Djokovic's serve and forehand were impaired by the injury early in the second set.
"I knew it when I broke him in the first game. I thought that was when it became obvious," he said afterwards.
Djokovic, who had not lost a match on hard courts all year, loses for only the second time this year (albeit with an asterisk), dropping his 2011 record to a pauperly 57-2.
"It's unfortunate that I had to finish this way. I apologize to the tournament; I apologize to the people who came here today to watch the match. I really tried. Didn't make sense for me to continue," Djokovic said after the match.
Djokovic said that his serve and forehand (especially his running forehand) were most affected by his shoulder injury. He added that his shoulder has bothered him for 10 days, that he has not had an MRI or any other diagnostic test to determine what exactly is wrong with it.
"The reason is shoulder pain," Djokovic said when asked for the reason why he withdrew. "I just could not serve. I served an average 90 miles per hour the first serve, and I could not play forehands.
You know, I could have maybe played another couple of games, but what for? I cannot beat a player like Murray today with one stroke."
But Djokovic does not expect the injury to affect him in New York, where he will look to become the fifth player since 2004 to win three Grand Slam titles in one year.
"I am confident that I can recover and be ready for US Open," he said.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at SBNation.com as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .