NEW YORK (AP) — With every serve, Jerzy Janowicz felt as if someone was stabbing him in the right side with a knife.
The Wimbledon semifinalist even tried one underhand in the first round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday. Qualifier Maximo Gonzalez had just hit a couple of winners off what Janowicz thought was best described as a "push," not a serve.
Hobbled by a lower back injury, the 14th-seeded Janowicz lost in straight sets to an opponent whose last victory in the main draw of an ATP Tour event came in April 2011.
Gonzalez, ranked 247th, won 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
The last time he played a Grand Slam tournament, Janowicz made history for himself and Polish tennis. He thought he was in great shape heading into the U.S. Open. That changed Saturday, during a workout in the gym with his fitness coach. Janowicz tried an exercise he'd done many times before, but on this day something went wrong.
He could barely walk. He couldn't sit or find a comfortable position to sleep. After a painkiller shot Monday and three acupuncture sessions, at least he could rotate to hit his backhand.
Other parts of his game weren't doing so well, either.
"I couldn't jump," Janowicz said. "I couldn't make a service movement."
Trailing 3-1 in the third set, he decided to try something different on game point. Janowicz quickly flipped the ball over the net with an underhand swing. The line judge apparently didn't even realize he had served, and the chair umpire had to call the ball out.
"The linesman didn't see — the serve was too fast," Janowicz deadpanned, his caustic humor intact.
"Disappointed" was the word he kept using in his post-match news conference, glancing down as he fiddled with the label on a sports drink.
Janowicz took an injury timeout for a trainer to massage his back in the second set. He asked doctors for painkillers, but they said he couldn't ingest any more after the injection.
He threw a racket, argued with the chair umpire, and mostly looked downright miserable for 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Gonzalez didn't appreciate the antics.
"If was him, I wouldn't play today," he said.
Janowicz insisted he never considered quitting.
"I was trying to fight," he said. "You never know what it's going to be."