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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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Cincinnati Daily Preview: A Loaded Schedule Features All Third Round Matches

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Emma Raducanu on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Thursday’s schedule in Cincinnati is overflowing with appealing contests.  ATP third round singles action is especially stacked, featuring 11 of the world’s top 20, including world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz.  WTA action features top names such as world No.1 Iga Swiatek and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

It’s been a tough season for Raducanu, but she seems to be peaking just in time for her US Open title defense.  The 19-year-old followed up her comfortable victory over Serena Williams by dominating Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-2.  She is currently in a trial coaching relationship with Dmitry Tursunov, who in recent years guided the careers of two other WTA players to new heights (Sabalenka, Kontaveit).  That partnership appears to be paying immediate dividends for Emma, much like Tursunov’s coaching did for Aryna and Anett.  Pegula has become the American No.1, and since last August, has reached the semifinals at three WTA 1000 events in North America, including just last week in Toronto.  But in their first career meeting, Raducanu’s blistering form this week makes her the favorite.


Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Grand Stand

This is a rematch from three months ago at the Madrid Masters 1000 event, where Auger-Aliassime crushed Sinner 6-1, 6-2.  That was an especially surprising result on clay, which is not Felix’s best surface.  The 22-year-old Canadian is now 35-19 on the year, and defeated Alex de Minaur in straight sets on Wednesday.  Sinner has a slightly better record of 38-10, and on Tuesday, outlasted Thanasi Kokkinakis in an over three-hour match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Over the last few months, Sinner has been the more in-form player.  Jannik has won nine of his last 11 matches, while Felix has only managed five of his last 10.  With not much separating their abilities, confidence may be key, and that’s to Sinner’s advantage.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – Fritz easily dismissed of an obviously-hampered Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday.  Rublev came back from a set down to take out Fabio Fognini.  Taylor is 3-2 against Andrey, which includes a straight set victory earlier this year at Indian Wells.

Petra Kvitova vs. Ons Jabeur (5) – Jabeur saved three match points on Wednesday against Ohio native Katy McNally.  A round earlier, Kvitova saved match point against last year’s runner-up, Jil Teichmann.  Petra leads their head-to-head 3-1, though Ons earned her first win in their friendly rivalry this season.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Madison Keys – On Wednesday, Swiatek outlasted the other finalist from the 2017 US Open, Sloane Stephens.  On the same day, Keys ousted another French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. 

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Denis Shapovalov – This week, Shapovalov has earned his first back-to-back wins since May.  He has split four previous meetings with Medvedev, though Daniil has claimed their most recent two. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Diego Schwartzman (13) – Schwartzman already survived two three-setters this week.  He’s 2-2 overall against Tsitsipas, though Diego has taken both of their matches on hard courts. 

Marin Cilic (14) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Cilic won this event in 2016.  He’s 1-1 against Alcaraz, who is now 43-8 in 2022.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cameron Norrie Makes Murray Pay In Last 16 Bid At Cincinnati

Cameron Norrie edged past Andy Murray to reach the last 16 in Cincinnati.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Cameron Norrie capitalised on missed opportunities from Andy Murray as he reached the last 16 in Cincinnati with a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win.

 

Norrie won the all-British match in three sets, relying on his mental strength to survive a wave of aggression from Murray.

The three-time grand slam champion missed an array of opportunities as he once again suffered cramping issues towards the end of his defeat.

Norrie will play either Casper Ruud or Ben Shelton in the last 16 on Thursday.

After an exchange of breaks to start the match, it was Murray who took the initiative early on dictating play from the baseline with good shot selection.

Murray bounced back from wasting two break point opportunities in the fourth game as he grinded out the break in the eighth game, forcing some uncharacteristic errors from Norrie’s racket.

Although the British number one pushed for the break back, it was Murray who continued to pile on the aggression as he converted his second set point to hold and take the opening set 6-3.

Murray continued to dominate proceedings against an under-par Norrie in the second set and it would be the start of a frustrating theme for the three-time grand slam champion as he missed a plethora of break points.

In total Murray converted two of eleven break point opportunities as Norrie slowly grew into the match, hitting more confidently.

Norrie’s mix of variety and power saw him break in the eighth game as Murray was punished for passive play on big points.

The Brit missed three more break points in the next game as Norrie forced a deciding set.

In the final set both players produced their best tennis of the set as they produced accurate and smart serving.

As Murray continued to be clinical on serve but he couldn’t repeat the same feat on return as he missed simple forehands and groundstrokes to convert his break point opportunities.

Norrie took advantage of denying Murray the break in the sixth game as he went for the break in the ninth game.

Murray’s cramping issues would come back to haunt him as a double fault sealed the break for Norrie, with the ninth seed closing out the match with some spectacular tennis.

After the match Norrie admitted it was one or two points that was the difference between victory and defeat, “There were a couple in the second and third set as well, when he had a couple of break chances, and then I was able to play the bigger points a little bit better. It came down to one or two points and that was the difference,” Norrie told the ATP website.

“I just needed to put a lot of balls in the court. At the start of the match nothing was really working for me, I was not really being physical, I was not really executing how I liked.

“Credit to Andy, he came out and was using his slice a lot, coming forward well. He reads the game incredibly, so credit to him and it was not easy towards the end, I managed just to find a way.”

Norrie will look to play better when he takes on Casper Ruud or Ben Shelton on Thursday.

As for Murray he will look to improve his stamina and tactical play just in time for the US Open which starts on the 29th of August.

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Gael Monfils Withdraws From US Open Due To Foot Injury

Gael Monfils will miss his third consecutive grand slam after another injury setback.

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Gael Monfils (@JCPGATA - Twitter)

Gael Monfils’ injury-hit season continues as he withdraws from the US Open due to a foot injury.

 

The Frenchman started the season in fine fashion as he reached the Australian Open quarter-finals and also won a title in Adelaide beating Karen Khachanov in the final.

However since the Australian Open, Monfils has only played five tournaments and has been struggling with injuries and consistency.

Th 35 year-old has only managed six victories since January and just when Monfils’ return to the tour looked successful in Montreal, the Frenchman suffered a foot injury against Jack Draper in their last 16 match.

After returning to Europe for scans it now turns out that Monfils will miss further weeks on the tour and will be unavailable for the US Open in a couple of weeks.

Speaking on Twitter the Frenchman revealed he will have to undergo further treatment, “Dear all, following the latest medical exams that I took upon returning in Europe, I will sadly not be able to play at the US Open this year,” Monfils told his fans on the social media website.

“I am forced to undergo a new period of treatment before being able to resume tournaments. I will keep you informed as soon as I can with regards to my next tournament.”

The news means that Monfils will miss his third grand slam in a row after being ruled out of Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier in the year as the Frenchman will look to be refreshed for the end of the season.

Monfils’ best result at the US Open was reaching the semi-finals in 2016 where he lost to Novak Djokovic in four sets.

The 35 year-old will aim to be back at the Masters 1000 event in Paris in November while the US Open will take place without Monfils on the 29th of August.

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