Four years ago, during the doubles final in Viña del Mar, he took a nasty fall and twisted his ankle. He was then on the verge of breaching into the top 15 (reached no 14 after the Chilean final he could not play because of the injury), had all the future ahead of him and a possible top 10 prospect. It took him a while to recover, but the deed was done, along with several other injuries that would keep him away from the courts for various periods of time during seasons, including one ongoing to his wrist.
Yesterday, history repeated for Juan Mónaco. Just off the best six months of his career, he was close to his goal of finally entering the top 10. Winner of the Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston on Sunday, his second title of the season, his prospect was bright for the upcoming European clay court stretch. To top it off, he had just equalled his career high ranking of no 14 when he headed to the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.
It was grey, rainy (the matches were suspended for a while because of a rain delay), the court conditions were not at their best. But Pico was winning, after dropping the first set to Robin Haase, whom he had actually bageled in the second set. Up a break in the third, he was closing in on a double break when, on a routine move, he lost footing and doubled his ankle. Rolling around in pain, he immediately received treatment, first on court, then on his chair, tried to play on, but couldn’t and was forced to retire, up 5-7 6-0 3-1.
In those painful moments, he could be heard screaming, “No, not another time, no!” as he knew, like we all did, that history was repeating for him. We all hoped for the best, but the news of the examinations on his ankle came out today: one ligament torn, two damaged, at least a month away from the court, and most of the clay season out. His goal is to play Roland Garros, but with these news, it seems like almost a miracle for him to reach it.
Let’s hope for the best, of course. But it’s really unfair that Mónaco should again suffer such an injury as he’s living the best moments of his professional career.
I’m not of those who think that had he been more rested, he would have avoided the injury. I made myself watch the incident quite too many times for my own good, and what it appears is really that he caught an asperity in the clay and could not avoid the fall. It could have happened to anyone, rested or not.
It is just another stroke of bad luck for a player who’s had his share of it. Then again, I’m confident that if he recuperates well and fully from the injury, he can make a great comeback and take it almost where he left it. He is well surrounded, with an incredible team around him, he’s also more mature, and will not take unnecessary risks with his health.
¡Muchos ánimos, Pico! ¡Pronta y completa recuperación!