Injuries Mar Aussie Open

When the professional tennis tours decided to shorten their respective seasons a few years ago, it was hoped it would extend the longevity of players at the top and cut down on the number of injuries.
At this year’s Australian Open, though, players were once more dropping like flies, denting the draws and leaving the physiotherapists at Melbourne Park severely overworked.
The nine first-round retirements, eight men and one woman, equaled the record for the most retirements or walkovers in a grand slam event.
Many of them, including the withdrawal of Palona Hercog of Slovenia after just one game, were clearly a result of a pre-existing injury. Others, like Czech Radek Stepanek, suffered an injury early in the match and were unable to finish.
The WTA Tour ends in late October, giving the leading women nine weeks off, while the ATP Tour has a seven-week break after the conclusion of the ATP World Tour Finals in London in early November.
The spate of retirements in Melbourne have led some to question whether players are not taking advantage of the longer break to rest their bodies but instead over-training in the off-season.
It may not be as simple as that. Andy Murray, who famously uses the off-season to train hard in Miami, said there could be any number of reasons for a high number of injuries at this time of year.
“There’s a big difference between someone having a muscular injury and twisting your ankle”, the Wimbledon champion said.
“Twisting your ankle is bad luck. If there’s a lot of muscular sort of injuries and stuff, then that’s something different. That can be down to either not training hard enough or training too much.
“Sometimes, if you’ve been in Europe for a long time and it’s freezing cold, coming to this heat, guys can get exhausted pretty quickly, muscles get tired faster.
“When your muscles get tired, it puts pressure on other parts of your body”.
The injuries continued into the second week in Melbourne as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both suffered problems as their title chances bit the dust.
Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said he thought it was most likely down to the difference between practice and competition.
“All the players, you can ask them, if they practice for four hours, every day, for two months, then the first match they play, they’re going to be so sore, because competition is completely different”, he said.

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