Men’s tennis plagued with injury concerns ahead of French Open

Men’s tennis plagued with injury concerns ahead of French Open

The second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open, is two weeks away with just Italian Open, in Rome, the big-ticket tournament remaining in preparation. As Rome gets underway on 8 May, many of the title contenders for the major in Paris are struggling with injuries.

Top of the pile is 14-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal who is working his way back from a muscle problem in Brisbane in January, when he had spent nearly a year out with a
hip issue last year
. Since January, Nadal has played two tournaments – in Barcelona and Madrid – winning four matches. The Spaniard presented a good case of his match-fitness in the run to the last-16 at Caja Magica. But before the tournament got underway, Nadal made his intentions for Roland Garros quite clear.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next three weeks. I will keep fighting and doing the things I believe I have to do so I can try to play in Paris, and if I can play, I play, if I can’t, I can’t,”
the former World No. 1 said
on 24 April.

“I will not play in Paris if I am the way I am now. If Paris were today, I wouldn’t take to the court. That’s the reality. I will only play in Paris if I feel capable enough to compete well.”

Nadal will be taking the court at the Italian Open, where he’s triumphed 10-times, which mirrors the French Open in courts and conditions. “I’m going to try and I want to play well there. I want to be competitive. I want to give myself a chance to play good tennis, and I’m going to keep working hard to try to make that happen,” he said after his fourth-round run in Madrid.

Novak Djokovic lost to Casper Ruud in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals. AP

Defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic has had a dismal season by his lofty standards. The World No. 1 has played only four events this season with no titles so far. He reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, second round in Indian Wells and last-four in Monte Carlo. He skipped Barcelona and Madrid that have followed but is on course to return in Rome.

“There are positives to take away for sure, but I’m used to a really high standard in terms of expectations and results,”
said 36-year-old Djokovic
in Monte Carlo. “Not having a title is – compared to the last 15 years – not a great season at all.”

The three-time French Open winner
split with coach Goran Ivanisevic
at the end of March, bringing a successful five-year partnership to an end. The Serb has also stressed on the need to manage his schedule at this late stage in his career.

Jannik Sinner pulled out of the Italian Open at home and is uncertain for the French Open in two weeks time. AP

Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner has made clear that he will only compete at the French Open if he is fully fit after withdrawing from the Italian Open.

Italy’s World No. 2 Sinner announced that he was dropping out of his home tournament as he failed to recover from a right hip injury which forced him to retire from the Madrid Open last week.

“I will only take part in Roland Garros if I am 100 percent fit,” said Sinner at a press conference held in Rome.

“I don’t want to go into details (of the injury), we thought initially that it wasn’t anything serious but the scans showed that there was something that wasn’t right.

“One thing is sure, if I’ve not 100 percent recovered I will take more time out as I do not want to lose three years of my career.

“It hurts (not playing) but making sure my body heals is the most important thing.”

Sinner, who holds a 28-2 record on the season, added that he would out of action “for a week, a week and a half”.

“My preparation for Paris won’t be optimal because I won’t have much time, but what is sure is that I will give everything in order to be in a position to play,” he said.

Carlos Alcaraz has been plagued by forearm issues in the run-up to the French Open. AP

Another youngster in World No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz is also not in the mix in Rome due to an injury. A right forearm injury forced the Spaniard to miss tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He returned to the Madrid Open where he fell to
eventual champion Andrey Rublev
in the quarter-finals.

“I felt some pain after playing in Madrid, some discomfort in my arm,” Alcaraz wrote on X. “Today I did some tests and I have a muscle edema in my pronator teres, a consequence of my recent injury. Unfortunately I will not be able to play in Rome. I need to rest so I can recover and play 100% pain free. I am very sorry, I will see you next year @InteBNLdItalia.”

Alcaraz, 18-5 this season, has won one title in 2024 – at the Indian Wells – but the injury laden run on clay doesn’t bode well for his chances in Paris, even if he does get fit to play.

Daniil Medvedev is not the most comfortable on clay and his best showing at the French Open was a quarter-final run in 2021. This time around, he exited Monte Carlo in the Round of 16 after a tantrum-filled outburst and was forced to give Jiri Lehecka a walkover in the quarterfinals of Madrid.

Daniil Medvedev retired mid-way in the first set of his Madrid Open match against Jiri Lehecka. AP

The Russian tried to persist and keep playing in the first set but decided to withdraw following a right hip issue. “It was a return when he served and volleyed, and I don’t know if I felt it on the return or the drop shot, but when I ran, I wanted to run faster and faster during the movement, and suddenly felt my hip blocked.”

“I couldn’t sprint, like when you strain a muscle or have a spasm, which is tough to know which of the two. Working with the physio, I asked if I could make it worse. He said, ‘If it’s a tear, then yes. If it’s a spasm, no’.”

The Italian Open defending champion Medvedev remained uncertain of his chances but at the time of the draw, he had decided against pulling out.

Other big title contenders in Alexander Zverev and Holger Rune have had a questionable run-in thus far on clay. Rune, twice a quarter-finalist in Paris, reached the last-eight in Monte Carlo, was swept aside in the semi-finals of Munich and Round of 32 in Madrid. Zverev, who has been to the semi-finals of Roland Garros for three straight years, hasn’t had a convincing run of form either. He lost in the Round of 16 in Monte Carlo, quarters in Munich and Round of 16 in Madrid.

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