Melbourne, VIC, 15 January 2019 | AAP

Injury-plagued Thanasi Kokkinakis has suffered yet another cruel setback after being forced to withdraw midway through his Australian Open first-round match against Japan’s Taro Daniel due to a pectoral problem.

Kokkinakis won the first set of Tuesday’s clash with Daniel 7-5 before calling a medical timeout early in the second set to receive treatment on his right pectoral.

Clearly in distress, the Australian battled for another few games before finally calling a halt to the match with the Japanese counter-puncher leading 4-2 30-0 in the second set.

“It’s not great. Especially after the satisfying feeling of qualifying, doing it the hard way a little bit, felt like my tennis was in a really good spot,” he lamented.

“I came in with a little bit of a cloud, but it just started getting way worse during the match. Got to a point where it was affecting me, coming down my arm, just wasn’t great.

“It’s tough. Especially just the atmosphere here is so good. I love playing in front of those guys. I felt like I was actually playing pretty good tennis. I just couldn’t serve or hit a hard ball.”

It continues a wretched run for the talented Kokkinakis, who has long been hampered by serious shoulder and pectoral injuries.

The 22-year-old also suffered a cracked kneecap last April in a frustrating campaign where he managed just nine tour matches for three wins.

But among those those three victories was a win over Roger Federer at the World Tour Masters event in Miami – a tantalising reminder of just what Kokkinakis was capable of when not let down by his fragile body.

“It’s just the stop-start (that’s frustrating) I guess. Every time I feel like I’m getting a bit of momentum, something seems to happen,” Kokkinakis said.

“I just got to keep putting myself in positions, keep getting my body stronger. I’m trying to look at it as a process. But, geez, it gets tough. Gets really tough every time I have to retire like that.

“That’s the most pain I’ve ever played in during a match, I think.”

The last four years I played here, I missed the first two years, last two years I injured myself in the match. This year, didn’t feel good at all.

“It’s annoying, especially missing the Aussie slam, not getting ready for that one.”