Dubai: Novak Djokovic insisted that he would have needed a 'third eye' to keep playing in Dubai after a right eye infection which spread to his left caused him to quit the tournament.
The world number one was 6-3 down to Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals on Thursday when he retired, ending his astonishing run of 17 consecutive finals.
It was also top seed Djokovic's first loss of 2016 after 14 wins, a run which included a sixth Australian Open title in January.
"If I had a third eye I'd play the tournament," said the 28-year-old, four-time Dubai champion.
"I'm sorry that I'm talking now with my sunglasses at 10:00 p.m. It's not a usual sight, but that's what it is and I am just hoping it's going to get better."
Djokovic, who celebrated his 700th career win on Wednesday, last failed to make a final when he was beaten in the Doha quarter-finals in January 2015.
But the 11-time Grand Slam winner admitted that the infection in his eyes had got worse in recent days.
Playing under the Aviation Club floodlights on Thursday made his eyes super-sensitive, he said.
"I've had it ever since I arrived in Dubai. It started with an infection and then severe allergy. That's what I was told," said the Serb.
"It's gotten worse in the last two days, unfortunately. It's the first time that I have had such a problem with the eye.
"It was unfortunate. It was ultra-sensitive today, the lights...it just wasn't to be."
Djokovic now heads back to Europe where he has Davis Cup duty next week before heading to the United States for back-to-back Masters at Indian Wells and Miami.
Thursday was his first retirement since a 2011 Davis Cup tie, but that did not prevent some fans in Dubai from jeering his decision to call it quits.
"I'm really sad to finish the tournament this way. I apologise to all the people who came in to watch the match. I apologise to the tournament director and everybody who came out to support me," added Djokovic.
"Things didn't feel right in any way for me today. I know that already from the morning and the practise session was just awful as well.
"I tried and I hope that people will recognise that."
Djokovic said that doctors advised him not to wear his contact lenses, advice that he followed except during matches.
"I was wearing contacts only in the match yesterday night. And today, other than that, I was not wearing them at all."
Djokovic said that building up another impressive finals stretch was the last thing on his mind.
"I just hope that this problem with the eye will fade away in the next couple of days," he said.
"I've got a lot of important events waiting for me in the next period -- Davis Cup back home and Indian Wells, Miami, and of course the clay court season.
"Physically I feel fine. Mentally, as well. It's just something that I hope that is gonna vanish after several days. It was getting worse. I have to deal with it."