As far as injuries were concerned, 2011 had a bad karma in the tennis world. Apparently, 2012 is determined to start the same way. After the pre-season pull-outs that I have listed last week, Somdev Devvarman pulled out of the Chennai event due to a shoulder injury yesterday. He was replaced by lucky loser Édourad Roger-Vasselin, who made the best of this opportunity by, today, defeating his countryman Eric Prodon (6-4 6-3), thus earning himself to be Stanislas Wawrinka’s first opponent of the season, tomorrow.
Also Monday, Florian Mayer was forced to retire from his match against Denis Istomin in Brisbane, the Uzbek having won the first set 7-6(5) but trailing 2-3 in the second. Mayer has a groin injury and, with the first Grand Slam of the season in less than two weeks, we can’t blame him for being cautious. Same for Devvarman, of course, and all the players who have made preventive pull-outs in the pre-Melbourne warm-up events.
Last minute: Another withdrawal just darkened more the beginning of this season, with Tommy Haas having to withdraw from the Brisbane International due to a calf injury. In this case, though, I’m wishing that the bad karma would leave him alone altogether. He’s had enough injuries as it is! His withdrawal means that Denis Istomin moves straight to quarter-finals, and this, without having played a single complete match! In his case, I think the karma’s good, though.
Juan Mónaco out of Auckland
The last pull-out’s news came out last night, but were only made official early this morning, as Juan Mónaco finally decided not to participate in the Heineken Open, held next week in Auckland, New Zealand (something he had hinted might happen after winning the Copa Almirante Brown exhibition a few weeks ago). The Tandil native explained on his website the reason for this pull-out:
“I didn’t make it to compete at 100%. I’m at my third week of offseason and my body is still not ready to compete. My wrist is still recovering and I am doing everything that is possible so as to get well to the Australian Open. For all those who are worried about me, I want to tell you I will make it to Australia !”
The whole news item can be found here.
Furthermore, for those who worry about the state of his wrist, the news are encouraging: Pico mentioned that his wrist doctor, Gabriel Clembosky, has saved his wrist and that he’s doing everything he can so that there will be no surgery, which is more and more unlikely to ooccur.
As I just said: very encouraging news for the ever-smiling Argentine!
Andy Murray’s injury scare
Upon his arrival in Brisbane, Andy Murray could be seen practising with a taped knee, which was also taped during his first-round doubles match (with Marcos Baghdatis), as well as today, when the Scot took the court to face Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.
Right from the start, it appeared obvious that something was troubling Murray, apart from his opponent’s great play. He quickly found himself down a double break, was clearly in pain (and no, it was not an act, as his detractors seemed so keen to point out), and even called the trainer (which is my cue to know that something isn’t right as far as Murray is concerned because since the beginning of his career, he only called the trainer when something was really wrong).
Nevertheless, he came back from a 1-5 deficit and evened things out, only to see Kukushkin breaking him again at 5-5 and finally serve out the set correctly. He then received a bit more treatment on his knee, a new bandage and as the match wore on, he started moving better, but still was not the most convincing, benefiting from Kukushkin’s meltdown from the middle of the second set onwards, more than from his increased playing level (although it did increase).
This was enough for him to scrape a 5-7 6-3 6-2 win and Murray will, tomorrow, face the powerful serve of Gilles Muller. And for those who wonder, no, Ivan Lendl isn’t with his new charge this week. He will be there in Melbourne, however.
Exhibition and tournament are two different things
Many, after the performance of the two active legends in Abu Dhabi last week, were expressing worries about the level of play of Rafael Nadal and, most of all, of Roger Federer, who was particularly sloppy in the two matches he played then (and made look even more so when facing a turned-on Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals).
However, both convinced for the most part during their respective first round matches, in Doha, and showed that last week was what it was: exhibition tennis. Again, Nadal was unable to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets (something he has never achieved on hard courts against him), the German playing an unbelievable second set (and an even more unbelievable tiebreak) and starting the third in the same way, breaking the Spaniard in his first game, but then Nadal started playing more aggressive tennis and turned the tables around, earning his place in the second round with a 6-3 6-7(2) 6-3 victory.
As for Roger Federer, he was in Fed Express mode, moving incredibly well and giving very few chances to the poor Nikolay Davydenko, who really is not the shadow of the player he was if only a year ago. Federer defeating the Russian in 54 minutes, 6-2 6-2.
Afterwards, both Federer and Nadal admitted themsleves very happy, the Swiss by the quality of his play at his first official match of the season, and the Spaniard for having fought through a tricky match and having shown more aggressive play at some key moments.
Nadal and Federer, as well as the Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who really suffered during two sets to defeat an impressive Malek Jaziri 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-1) and Gaël Monfils, will all be in action again tomorrow to play their second round matches.