The are two certainties in a pro tennis career: 1) you will retire; and, 2) you will get injured. Unfortunately, just a week into the New Year and new tennis season we are already seeing a lot of No. 2!
Today, for just the second time in his career Roger Federer had to withdrew before a match because of a back injury he first sustained on Wednesday in a win over Grega Zemlja.
“I don’t feel a whole lot of improvement for today, and I just don’t think it’s the right time to risk anything more right now,” Federer said. “I still have pain, and that’s why it was the only right decision, a difficult one for me.
“It’s a sad moment for me and for the tournament and for the fans, but health goes first, like everybody knows, unfortunately, and I hope I can recover quickly,” he added. “So that’s No. 1 on the agenda right now.”
The other time in 996 career matches that Roger wasn’t able to play a match was in 2008 at Paris against James Blake when he also was suffering from back pain.
Federer said he might stay in Doha Saturday for the 20th anniversery champions celebration before embarking on the long flight to Australia.
Another former No. 1’s attendance in Melbourne is also in question. 2011 winner Kim Clijsters injured her left hip last night in Brisbane. The bubbly Belgian was leading Daniela Hantuchova a set but was down 3-1 in the second when she had to retire from the match.
“I just felt my left hip getting tighter and tighter to the point where I felt like I couldn’t go forward with my upper body or put any pressure on when I was landing on my serve,” Clijsters said.
“So it was the smartest choice to try and not let it get any worse, to be ready for Melbourne in a couple of weeks.”
More troubling is that Federer and Clijsters aren’t the only two Australian Open champions under a sudden injury cloud. Serena Williams turned her ankle on Thursday, Rafael Nadal’s been playing with pain in his right shoulder and Maria Sharapova’s still recovering from an October ankle injury.
When we do see these rash of injuries it’s quick for the tennis community to blame at almost anything: the length of the season, the strings, the racquets, the court surfaces and of course George W. Bush.
But let’s remember. These top players have been on the pro tour a long, long time, putting a lot of tennis miles on their bodies. And Federer and Serena are now 30. Kim is 28. Nadal will be 26 in June and Sharapova, though only 24, is starting her 10th year on the tour!
So injuries are going to happen. That’s pro sports and tennis isn’t immune. And unfortunately, there just isn’t a solution. It’s just part of the aging process people. Just cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t hit your favorite player at the wrong time.
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