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.