Thursday, August 26, 2010

Limping toward Flushing Meadows

You don't have to be a hundred percent fit to win a major; Serena Williams is living proof of that. "What parts of you are wrapped?" a reporter asked her at one of the majors. "What parts of me aren't?" she replied. On the other hand, Williams is kind of special when it comes to not letting things like chronic injuries and hot spots get in the way of her winning trophies.

Right now, as we approach the U.S. Open, those enjoying good health (as far as anyone knows) include such players as Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Francesca Schiavone, Li Na, Marion Bartoli (imagine that), and Agnieszka Radwanska.

But good health isn't everything. Sabine Lisicki and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, for example, have recovered from their injuries, but have had very little match play to prepare for the Open.

Then there are the injured, who may or may not be feeling good enough to compete at a high level. Defending champion Kim Clijsters recently injured her hip, though she says she is now feeling better. Likewise, Sam Stosur says she has totally recovered from a case of sore right arm. Dinara Safina is--for now--pain-free, and one can only hope that she remains so.

Flavia Pennetta injured her foot today, Maria Sharapova recently sustained a foot injury, and Jelena Jankovic has a not-as-recent ankle sprain, whose status is unknown. Venus Williams says she's ready to compete, but she's having knee problems, again. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been struggling with a hip injury, and just the other day complained of shoulder problems, also, though she has begun hitting again. Ana Ivanovic, who may or not be in a state of comeback, has injured her ankle. Elena Dementieva--a perennial U.S. Open contender--tore her calf muscle during the French Open, and it's still bothering her.

Hard courts are tough on the joints, so we may see some our favorite players at a loss to produce their best tennis, or perhaps at a loss to play several consecutive matches. We could see some retirements, too. There are also players like Bartoli and Victoria Azarenka, who are somewhat injury-prone under any circumstances.

The U.S. Open field is never an injury-free field, but this year seems to be especially bad. With both Serena Williams and Justine Henin unable to compete, and with bad ankles, hips, knees, and feet pervading the top of the rankings, the most we can hope for is that the best players can press on, even while somewhat injured.

No comments: