Disaster Series it sure has been. The last three singles matches in Rome have all ended abruptly in retirement. Last night in the final quarterfinal match Nicolas Almagro went no mas against Novak Djokovic retiring down 6-1, 1-0 with a banged up wrist.
Today, more of the same. Andy Roddick pulled the plug just three games in against Stan Wawrinka. Roddick cited back spasms and pain. A short while later it was Radek Stepanek-Hingis-Vaidisova’s turn to eject, withdrawing down 7-0 to Djokovic because of illness.
And that’s your singles semifinal session fans and ticket holders, two matches and a 10-0 scoreline for both winners. Is there a refund? Probably not. But wait, at least there some senior tennis and doubles on the docket. Thomas Muster v. Henri Leconte? That should make up for it. That should keep the Rome ticket holders happy.
And these retirements might again fire-up all the injury talk of the pro circuit. But it’s probably just bad luck, bad timing. Injuries do and will happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. Let’s just hope we don’t get another one tomorrow.
And before you ask, no, these retirements are not in the same conversation as Djokovic’s pull from Monte Carlo. For Almagro and Roddick, both were physical injuries. That happens and by playing on you can make the injury that much worse. Stepanek I will give a pass to only because he doesn’t retire like this very often. It’s not trend. He doesn’t make a habit of getting overheated in semifinal matches. But if he keeps retiring in big matches with illness then I’m sure he will incur some Djokovic-like wrath.
As for the final, to steal a line from poster Jane, it’s “Unpredictability Restored” in men’s tennis.
Djokovic is not much of a surprise but Stan Wawrinka?
Djokovic should win tomorrow over the Other Swiss, and if he does he will put even more heat on Nadal for that No. 2 spot. And if Nadal does not play or play well in Hamburg because of those blisters, Djokovic could very well be the No. 2 seed at the French Open.
Taking it a step further, if Novak wins tomorrow, wins in Hamburg and runs the table at the French – and I think he’s more than capable of doing it! – we would be probably (and I really haven’t looked at all the numbers/permutations) be looking at a new World No. 1 a month from now.
Of course I’m getting way, way ahead of myself, as we’ve seen this week and most of this year anything can happen in tennis. Stan Wawrinka in the Top 10? That’s pretty amazing. A Swiss not named Federer winning a clay Masters Series? Even more.
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