Poor Dinara Safina. After struggling for months with back pain, she was convinced that her back was 100% healed. But during her Australian Open round of 16 match against Maria Kirilenko, the pain came back, and came back so badly, Safina was forced to retire before the first set was over.
Safina has edema of the bone, and was told by her doctors that her back might occasionally get stiff and be a bit uncomfortable, but should have no pain. She said it did get stiff during practice, but--since she knew that could happen--she didn't think much about it. She took painkillers before the match, but after a few games in, the pain became so bad, she could not move.
Since the edema had been decreasing, Safina is puzzled as to exactly what happened. She is going back to Germany to see her doctors as soon as possible.
Kirilenko's birthday is today (if you happen to be in Australia, that is), so she probably couldn't ask for a nicer present than an advancement to the quarterfinals. Having Safina leave the draw this way, though, is sad, and it is big loss to the excitement of the competition.
Too bad you weren't on ESPN2 last night, Diane. At the time that Safina actually retired, apparently Carillo, MJF and Shriver were all back in their hotel rooms after the Henin/Wickmayer match ended. No one on air knew that Safina's been battling a back injury for months, and it took half an hour before it was mentioned at all in passing (after Darren Cahill had originally said he didn't "think she was faking" it).
Who knew there'd come a time when you could say, "I wish Pam was here." :D
I'm glad I didn't see and hear it. And I thought I was suffering, having to listen to Barry McKay and Jeff Turango call women's matches. Cahill, of course, believes that even death shouldn't stop a player from going on--just prop her up and put the racquet back in her hand.
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