British number one Emma Raducanu was forced to retire from her Italian Open first-round match when she was again hampered by a back injury.
Raducanu has been managing the issue in recent weeks but, after needing off-court treatment, could not continue against Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.
The 19-year-old trailed 6-2 2-1 in Rome when she decided to stop.
It is the latest in a series of niggles that have dogged the US Open champion in her first full year on the WTA Tour.
“I was definitely disappointed with how today went, but I guess I wanted to give it a try,” Raducanu said. “I never really knew how bad it was until I kind of went out there.
“I’m still learning when it’s right to push my body and push through it, and when it’s not. I guess that’s something I’m learning at these tournaments.
“After Madrid, I thought that maybe taking one, two days off, it would just go away because a lot of the other small niggles I’ve had, they’ve kind of gone away after taking two days off.”
Raducanu, ranked 12th in the world, will be hoping the injury improves before the French Open starts.
The clay-court Grand Slam begins on 22 May and Raducanu will be playing in the main draw for the first time.
Raducanu struggled with a back injury during her defeat at the Madrid Open last week and said before facing Andreescu in Rome she was “managing” the problem.
The British teenager needed an injury timeout at 5-2 in the first set, going off court for lengthy treatment.
After initially appearing to serve better in the second set, she told the umpire she could not continue after losing serve for the third time in the match.
It was a disappointing end to a highly anticipated first contest between two of the most talented youngsters in the game.
The match-up between the pair – who have parallels as unexpected teenage US Open champions and both born in the same part of Canada with Romanian heritage – made for an intriguing prospect.
Andreescu, 21, has suffered serious physical issues herself since winning the Flushing Meadows title in 2019, admitting recently she had considering quitting the sport.
But she showed signs of her best form – demonstrated by powerful returning, precise winners and a solid second serve – to dominate Raducanu before the match came to an early conclusion.
“It’s definitely been difficult for me but I’m slowly getting back to my top form, which I’m pleased about,” Andreescu told Amazon Prime.
“I hope Emma’s injury – or whatever she is dealing with – isn’t so bad. She is an amazing player. She’s dealing with something and I hope she is OK.”