Yesterday, it was the newly ATP World Tour Finals qualified Mardy Fish who had to retire from a match due to a left leg injury, the same injury that forced his retirement after only one game during his match against James Blake, last week, at the Basel tournament. This morning, it was Novak Djokovic’s turn to announce news he probably should have announced earlier.
His shoulder is too painful for him to go on in the Paris tournament and you can read here the nice message he left for his fans to announce and explain his decision.
Obviously, we can wonder why he played the Paris Masters 1000, put the blame on the $1.6M bonus he received by playing his second-round match, question why he did not retire during yesterday’s match against Viktor Troicki, etc.
One thing is certain: there will be critics. For instance, many of us (myself included) criticized Djokovic’s decision to retire in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 finals when he could’ve played with minimal effort and permit Andy Murray to savour his triumph completely. Many others criticized him last week for wanting to finish, with minimal effort, his match against Kei Nishikori when he was obviously ailing. But hadn’t he learned from Cincinnati and permitted Kei to have his moment?
If there is one player who doesn’t make unanimity (although no player does), it is the actual World no 1. However, there is one thing that cannot be criticized as far as he’s concerned and it’s his desire to please and to always give his best. Still, with the London Masters fast approaching, his is a wise decision, as it was a wise decision for Mardy Fish to retire from his match yesterday.
The season is too long and the players are paying the price for it.
The question I have, at the moment, is in which physical condition the players will be in about 10 days time, when London starts. The Big Eight are now known, Tomas Berdych ending the suspense early yesterday when he defeated Janko Tipsarevic, thus confirming his own qualification, but also that of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and of Mardy Fish.
In the eight players who qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals this year, none was able to play the whole season without injuries. Of course, pain is part of the game, but at the same time, it is necessary to find a way to shorten the season (shorten, not compress) in order to avoid serious injuries to the players, which could compromise their careers (which kind of brings back the argument I mentioned earlier this week about the slowing down of the surfaces).
London starts in about 10 days, but with how many injured?