After the heartbreaking image of Juan Mónaco writhing in pain after a nasty fall on the Court Central of the Monte Carlo Country Club in his second-round match, I hoped there would not be any more injuries or bad events happening to the players taking part in the first clay-court Masters 1000 of the season. However, there were good Pico news coming our way tonight, as we could see images and even a video of the Argentine already starting his rehabilitation, in water.
But the sadness and injuries continued at the MCCC.
David Ferrer in doubt for the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
Yesterday, it was David Ferrer’s turn to suffer an arm injury during practice, which partly caused his 6-3 6-2 second-round loss to Thomaz Bellucci. Not the whole cause, because the Brazilian played an absolutely flawless match. At first, the arm injury suffered by last year’s Monte Carlo runner-up was just a rumour, but his tweet from early this morning left no room to doubt, as he himself said he wasn’t sure if he would play in Barcelona or not.
No pudo ser,Belluci fue muy superior a mi. Ahora a casa unos dias de descanso y veremos si juego la sem q vieneel Godo. Abrazos a todos
— David Ferrer (@DavidFerrer87) April 19, 2012
The Barcelona tournament is the one tournament that Ferrer dreams the most to win one day, so let’s hope the few days’ rest he’s taking will see him recovered to try and conquer his dream!
Same spot, same kind of fall, different player, bigger injury
This is how I would, in a few words, summarize what happened today to 30-year-old Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Engaged in a long rally with Andy Murray, at the end of a very tight first set, Benneteau tumbled inside a hole in the surface, at almost the exact same spot as Juan Mónaco did a couple of days ago, badly twisting his right ankle and falling heavily on his right arm.
Writhing in pain, crying from the sheer physical agony of the injury, Benneteau was treated on the spot by the tournament trainers, while Andy Murray, who had brought him some ice, was discussing with umpire Carlos Bernardes about the court being “full of holes”. Benneteau is the second one to fall on Court Central, but all courts are shown to be quite slippery, and the bad weather conditions don’t help in the least.
Julien Benneteau tried to play on, but was forced to retire a bit later, down 5-6 in the first set.
A few hours later, after medical exams were done, the extent of the injury became known: broken elbow and ankle sprain. Just for the elbow, Benneteau will need to have his arm immobilized for three weeks, and then comes the rehab. He aims a comeback in time for the London Olympics, in July.
Like it happened with Mónaco, Benneteau suffered this injury when living the greatest moments of his career. Just two spots short of his career ranking high (29, reached at the end of February) at no 31, a place in the top 25 was in the domain of the possible for the Frenchman.
The two falls of players on almost the same spot, as well as Murray’s comments, really make me question why a place as rich as Monte Carlo can’t have better court maintenance. After all, we’re talking about a Masters 1000 event (although optional) held there, and so the courts should definitely be in better conditions than what we’ve seen so far in the tournament.
Another source of worry: the people responsible for the maintenance of the Monte Carlo courts are the same as those of Roland Garros. Does this mean we’ll see more of these awful court conditions and/or player injuries at the French Open? I really hope not.
The hardest day for Nole
As if the injuries weren’t enough of a curse at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, we saw, shortly after the aborted round-of-16 match between Andy Murray and Julien Benneteau, images of Novak Djokovic leaving practice in tears after an official came to deliver him some bad news.
Many of his fans feared that it was related to his grandfather, Vladimir, who had been ill for a time. Sadly, the news were soon confirmed: Grandpa Djokovic had passed away. Sympathy messages to Nole and his family quickly abounded in social media and, at the same time, the question was whole: would Novak play his match against Alexandr Dolgopolov, scheduled a bit later?
We quickly had the answer: he would. Gathering up all the courage he could muster, fighting off tears during the match, the World no 1 showed immense strength in not only taking the court, but also to come back from a set deficit to win the match and reach the quarter-finals, 2-6 6-1 6-4.
After the last ball, a second serve return from Dolgopolov on Djokovic’s first match point, went long, there was a very emotional moment for all those who witnessed it, as Djokovic saluted in the sky for long moments, dedicating this difficult win to his beloved grandfather before breaking into tears once more:
Very poignant images, and I salute the courage of Novak Djokovic to fight the pain as best he could and to get the win today. My most sincere condolences to him and to his family in this time of grief.