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The French Open Injury Conundrum

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Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

In three days time the 116th French Open will get underway, but the tournament already faces a dilemma following a series of injury issues hitting some of the biggest stars in the sport.

 

Many predicted that Simona Halep would be one of the main contenders for the Roland Garros trophy. On the clay, she successfully defended her title at the Madrid Open followed by reaching the final at the Italian Open. During a ten-match winning streak, the Romanian dropped just four sets. The French Open preparation was near perfect for Halep, until disaster struck during the Rome final.

“The MRI scan shows a torn ligament from the fall in Rome. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for RG and will do everything possible to be ready. Doctors say it’s 50/50 at the moment.” Halep confirmed on Wednesday.

The only consolation for Halep is that she is not alone. Defending champion Garbine Muguruza has recently been hindered by injury setbacks. After playing five games in the semifinals of the Rome Open, the Spaniard was forced to retire due to a neck problem. Whilst it an unwelcome injury scare ahead of the major in Paris, Muguruza still intends to play.

“It’s not very good, obviously, because it’s something that, I don’t know, you do a bad movement and suddenly your neck got stuck,” she said last week. “I didn’t know what to do, because I couldn’t really serve in there. But I’m, like, ‘I’m going to go on the court.’ I’m going to try. You know what? Maybe I can serve slower or something.”

World No.10 Agnieszka Radwanska has only managed to play one clay court match this season. Shortly after losing in the first round of the Stuttgart Open, she withdrew from the following two tournaments due to a foot injury.

““I’ve been struggling with my foot already for a couple of weeks – actually months, but now it’s getting worse again and clay is not helping.” 28-year-old Radwanska recently told the media in Madrid.
“It started last year but then it was off and then it came back again. It’s not getting any better, so I just want to make sure I can have a chance to be really 100 percent prepared for the French Open.”

This week has seen a series of high profile tournament withdrawals. Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard withdrew from the Nurnburg Cup after pulling a ligament in her ankle, placing her Roland Garros campaign in doubt. Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki was forced to quit her match in Strasburg due to a back injury.

Stuttgart Open champion Laura Siegemund had her Paris dreams shattered on Wednesday. Playing in Nurnberg, she twisted her right knee during her match against Barbora Krejcikova. Leaving the court on a stretcher, it was later confirmed that she will miss the French Open.

The men have problems too

In the men’s draw, uncertainty has been cast over Juan Martin del Potro’s participation. The former US Open champion hasn’t played at Roland Garros since 2012 due to a series of injury setbacks. Yesterday, the popular player admitted that he is currently suffering from shoulder and back problems following his loss to Portugal’s Gastao Elias in Lyon.

“I have pain in my back and shoulders. I will make a decision soon on my participation at Roland Garros,” said the 28-year-old

Other doubts include world No.35 Viktor Troicki, who pulled out of this week’s Geneva Open due to a hamstring tear. Troicki reached the fourth round in Paris last year. Meanwhile, former top-10 player Nicolas Almagro is coping with the effects of a knee problem.

Finally, rising star Nick Kyrgios is nursing a hip issue. It first became visible during his match against Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Masters. Since then he withdrew from the Italian Open due to his hip and suffered a surprise loss to Nicolas Kicker earlier this week.

“The one thing I want to improve on is my health and my body. I got to get it physically right to stay healthy and play events.” He said.

Kyrgios is expected to play in Paris.

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Carlos Alcaraz Gets Revenge On Andy Murray To Reach Vienna Last Eight

Carlos Alcaraz is into the Vienna quarter-finals after beating Andy Murray in straight sets.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz got revenge on Andy Murray after beating the former grand slam champion 6-3 6-4 to reach the Vienna Quarter-Finals.

 

The Spaniard lost to Murray in a three set battle at Indian Wells earlier this month but was victorious in Austria.

Despite being a break up in the second set, the three time grand slam champion couldn’t consistently out-power the aggressive Spaniard.

Alcaraz will now play Nikoloz Basilashvili or Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.

Alcaraz was aggressive from the very first ball as he controlled rallies behind the baseline and punished Murray’s weak second serve.

After being broke in the first game, the Brit got his revenge in the fourth game as he converted in his sixth break point of the game to seal the break back.

However Alcaraz’s firepower was too much and the Spaniard’s consistent firepower was too much for Murray as two hard-fought breaks followed as he sealed the opening set in 65 minutes.

Murray utilised a more attacking style of play in the second set and was rewarded with an early break of serve as he would take a 4-2 lead.

But Alcaraz displayed too much power and accuracy as he reeled off four games in a row to complete his victory and progress into the Vienna quarter-finals.

Alcaraz will now play Basilashvili or Berrettini in the quarter-finals as he looks for a strong finish to a career-best season.

As for Murray that will be the end of his season unless he gets a wildcard into Paris next week or makes the Davis Cup Finals team for Great Britain.

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Simona Halep wins the all Romanian battle in Cluj

Simona Halep is into the second round in Cluj after a dominant performance.

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Simona Halep (@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

The world number 18 and the top seed managed to beat her Romanian counterpart in straight sets.

 

Simona Halep is through round one of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, after beating a fellow Romanian Elena Gabriella Ruse in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes.

The number one seed served six aces and won 83% of her first serve points in a match that seemed one-sided and Halep was pulling amazing shots and winners throughout the entire match.

“It’s not easy to face a Romanian in the first round of a Romanian tournament but I was very focused and concentrated on what I have to do and I didn’t really think of who I would play, I just wanted to play my game and I felt great on court today.”

It was actually the world 85 with the first breakpoint of the match in the first game but it was denied when Halep stepped up to the service line and fired an ace to save it.

After holding serve the world number 18 started looking for the early lead and she was able to get it after a poor service game from Ruse and after consolidating the break managed to turn it into a double break.

Halep served out the first set in a mere 29 minutes and it was clear she was the better player today.

She continued to ride the momentum into the second set and at 1-1 earned three more chances to break and broke with a stunning return winner that caught Ruse off guard for the 2-1 lead.

At 4-2, the top seed managed to go up a double break with another amazing passing shot and she served out the match and after the match in her post-match press conference, she spoke about pulling off those amazing shots on breakpoints.

“When I have a chance to do it I always do because I love these kinda shots and today it was a great one so it made me very happy.”

Halep will next face the Russian Varvara Gracheva in the next round after she beat the German Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday night.

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Anett Kontaveit overpowers Krunic in Cluj-Napoca

Anett Kontaveit took a step towards the WTA Finals with a straight sets win in Cluj today.

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Anett Kontaveit (@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

The number two seed only needed two sets and 70 minutes to beat her Serbian opponent.

 

Anett Kontaveit is through to the second round of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, beating the Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes.

The world number 14 served two aces and won 69% of the points on her first serve in a match where she seemed to outhit her opponent using her powerful groundstrokes.

“The match was close and it was only break in the first set and I thought I was playing pretty well and winning a lot of points on my first serve but I actually think she served well and it wasn’t an easy match and the second set got really close”.

The Estonian had the better start to the match holding serve in her opening game and putting pressure on the Serb right away earning two chances to break serve and got the early break to take a 2-0 lead.

That one break was enough for Kontaveitt to serve out the first set and take it 6-3.

The second set was a more competitive affair and it stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Tallinn, Estonia native was able to break the Serb at love to take a 3-2 lead and she was able to consolidate the break.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when the world number 44 fought back and was able to break the Estonian serve and the set went back on serve. Once again both players did a good job holding serve until 5-5 when Kontaveit got the crucial break of serve and served out the match.

After the match in her post-match press conference, Kontaveit spoke about how she was feeling energy-wise after such a short turnaround time from winning the title in Moscow last week.

” I feel like the energy has dropped a little bit but I did manage to bring some of the energy today and still be active and be aggressive.”

Kontaveit will now face Alison Van Uytvanck in her next match after the Belgian beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.

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