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In Charleston in Pain 04/18/2010 - 9:25 AM

Dinara

by Bobby Chintapalli, TW Contributing Editor

Remember when you didn’t need a medical degree to talk about tennis? When bandages weren’t a girl’s best friend? When tennis player Dinara Safina actually played tennis? Those were the good, old days, weren’t they? Long ago my journalism professors discouraged starting an article with a question, so I suspect they would have advised against starting with four. Yet I can’t think of starting an article on a topic chock full of questions any other way. And while we’re at it here’s another one: What on earth is going on?

Pulling Out

Certainly not tennis for players who retired from the Family Circle Cup in Charleston this week. What can I say about poor Caroline Wozniacki and that fall in her semifinal match against Vera Zvonareva yesterday that you didn’t see played and replayed on TV a million times? Ouch!

Olga Govortsova retired with a left knee injury and Ayumi Morita and Elena Vesnina with a left adductor strain. Marion Bartoli pulled out with a condition that won’t make us pull out a medical dictionary though it might make us raise an eyebrow – dizziness. Victoria Azarenka, before she flew to Chicago then Rome and tweeted desperately to everyone for a flight to anywhere, pulled out of Charleston with a left hamstring injury she got in Marbella.

Other players also not playing much tennis include those who withdrew before the tournament even began:

- Sybille Bammer (Achilles injury)
- Kateryna Bondarenko (Left knee injury)
- Dominika Cibulkova (Right hip strain)
- Casey Dellacqua (Right foot injury)
- Alisa Kleybanova (Plantar fasciitis)
- Viktoriya Kutuzova (Back injury)
- Sabine Lisicki (Left ankle injury)
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Foot injury)
- Maria Sharapova (Right elbow injury)
- Serena Williams (Left knee injury)

And the tennis players who are “lucky” enough to play tennis, aren’t lucky enough to do so without bandages. Watching matches at the event for four days I saw only two or three players who weren’t wearing bandages at some point. They could be to aid recovery, prevent injury or just provide “support” – the point is, these days they’re always there. Singles finalist Vera Zvonareva still wears an ankle brace a year after injuring her right ankle in a horrible fall at this tournament last year (though she said yesterday she feels like she’s finally fully recovered); she eventually ended up getting surgery and tumbling out of the Top 20. And the other finalist, Sam Stosur, casually mentioned that she sprained her ankle last week.

Figuring It Out

So what is going on? Well, a few veteran players have some ideas.

Patty Schnyder, who turned pro 16 years ago, pointed to the greater depth of the game: “[The] competition is really tough. The top level maybe it’s the same, but it’s like the density between 10 and 40, 50 that’s really improved a lot in the women’s game. So you don’t get many free rounds and easy rounds to warm up. You really have to be sharp… in the very first match… that takes a lot of energy.”

Nadia Petrova, who turned pro 11 years ago, cited the increase in power and the number of tournaments played: “First of all, the level of game is getting higher. It’s getting more powerful, and you really have to push yourself further in the matches, and that creates some kind of injuries. But then a lot of girls are playing way too many tournaments and they just don’t have enough time to get the body some rest and work on some fitness so they stay stronger.”

Vera Zvonareva, who turned pro 10 years ago, thought scheduling was part of the problem: “The schedule is very tough for players. Right now it’s pretty much the same schedule for everybody, but everyone is different. Everybody has different level of fitness, different bodies, different results, different amount of matches that they played in the previous weeks. So it is very difficult to manage and schedule it. And sometimes you’re forced to play a lot of events when you’re tired, and that’s most of the times when injuries are coming, when your body is not fresh.”

Another possibility may be the length of the off season. Tennis’s off season seems rather short compared to other sports. Surely there are other factors too.

But if something doesn’t change, that can’t be good for these young, young players, fans or the game both love.


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Posted by Neveah 04/18/2010 at 09:49 AM

Always love your articles Bobby:) I miss Dinara and Sharapova and Serena really bad:(...I hope everyone gets well soon.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 10:22 AM

Bobby,
Very interesting article on injuries and the response from some players. Last year, the WTA season ended in the last week of October due to Roadmap schedule which changed the schedule. There are some weeks that are built in to give players some time to rest and recover. However, the reason for the increase in injuries could vary as pointed out in your thread. Hope, Caroline comes back a week later than most people expect so her ankle sprain can be healed better.


Vera Zvonareva vs Samantha Stosur final will be at 1 PM on ESPN2 with Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver doing the commentary(most likely, the chair umpire will be Lynn Welch)

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!!) 04/18/2010 at 10:34 AM

Fun read, Bobby!

That list of injured players is sobering.

Re: Caro - Am I misremembering or didn't she used to wear ankle braces (hence the "Ski Boots" nickname)?

Posted by Lana 04/18/2010 at 10:54 AM

Hi Bobby, long time no hear from you! Love the article. And it's sad that there are so many injurious. I was so sorry for Caro, I hope it's nothing too serious. I agree that the schedule is very tough for the players, I think they play just to much tournaments. I think it's just to much pressure for the human body.
I especially miss Masha and Serena on tour. I hope they'll be back soon!

Regards
Lana :)

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 10:55 AM

Sblily,
Correct on Caroline and thanks for reminding me on that nickname for Caroline.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 10:56 AM

Bobby Thanks.Goodness me the wounded list on the WTA is a bit frightening to say the least.I agree Tennis compared to other sports dosent have a "off season" at all.

With the new road map as Master Ace has pointed out.In ways it does give players some breathing space.Though it is up to them,their coaches to plan their playing schedule.

I would still like to see more balance in tournaments though.I feel like the ATP the bulk of the tournament play is on the h/courts.H/courts with the constant pounding does take its toll on your body.I think gym training is another vital part of any players fitness regime these days.It does strengthen major muscles groups.Fatique is another area where injuries can occur.A point you had noted.

I guess its all about Balance in many ways and being able to keep it.Sounds great in theory though on the court where it counts is another matter.

Posted by Bobby 04/18/2010 at 11:17 AM

Guys, thanks for the comments, reading on and off throughout the day. Heading to the stadium now. If you think of good questions on certain points in singles or doubles, let me know here. If I can I'll ask a few of them in the pressers. Enjoy the tennis!

Posted by samarnath 04/18/2010 at 12:36 PM

bob
Ask them weather they can beat Steffi Graf or not.

Posted by Codge 04/18/2010 at 12:45 PM

Bobby, that injury list does look daunting.

Schedule management is key for a long season. Hopefully players on both tours will find a balance.

Didn't see the Caro match, but I'm envisioning e @ Miami a few yrs ago. Ai yai yai!!! :(

Posted by Codge 04/18/2010 at 12:47 PM

Hmm, sentence missing something...

"Didn't see the Caro match, but I'm envisioning GOLOVIN @ Miami a few yrs ago. Ai yai yai!!! :("

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:02 PM

Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver will do the commentary for ESPN2 for Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur

Lynn Welch will be the chair umpire

Posted by ladyjulia 04/18/2010 at 01:02 PM

Congrats to all RAfa fans!

(don't know which is the current post)

He's back!

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:03 PM

No ankle tear for Caroline as she had a MRI done. Only a sprain.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:04 PM

Ladyjulia,
Lately, match call for WTA matches have been done on Bobby's post. Most of the people are on the Deuce Club celebrating Rafael 6th title at Monte Carlo

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:05 PM

Good news for Caro

Thanks Ladyjulia

I am still out that he is finally back

If he can recapture RG this year

I will concede that lol!

Posted by ladyjulia 04/18/2010 at 01:05 PM

MA...oh...got it.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:07 PM

Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver will do the commentary for ESPN2 for Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur

Lynn Welch will be the chair umpire

And, Samantha will serve to start the match

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:09 PM

Conditions very windy today

Sam please stay focused

Good luck to both players.

Though I am hoping for a Stosur win.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:14 PM

Camera just focused when Sam was sitting down on her wrist band and it said

Attitude on it.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:14 PM

Samantha holds at love as Vera BH sails wide. Samantha hit 2 FH and BH winner in that game. Vera to serve 0-1

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:15 PM

Attitude and Composure are on Samantha's wrist band.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:15 PM

hiya fellers and gals
Sam has come out pretty cleanly...I hope 'Crumble-lina' doesn't show up

wheres sokol?haven't seen a post from him/her in a while

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:17 PM

Thanks MA I didnt see the Composure

Though for Sam important point.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:18 PM

30-40 for Samantha as Vera FH sails long
Samantha breaks as she hit smash winner after coming to net behind BH

Samantha to serve 2-0

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:18 PM

Sam with 5 winners already

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:19 PM

Fuzzy sokol has kind of become a lurker these days.Dont ask me why.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:21 PM

Yello Fuzzy,
Samantha hitting winners is no surprise as she was hitting them against Shuai and Daniela consistenly in her last 2 matches. This is similar to Sabine run to win Charleston last year as she was lacing winners.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:21 PM

I must say I love those lounges they have for the players courtside.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:23 PM

0-30 for Samantha as she hit FH winner
8 winners for Samantha
0-40 Samantha FH winner
Samantha breaks as Vera FH sails long

Samantha to serve 4-0

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:24 PM

geez , slammin Sam!!!she is dominating this match so far....'Crumble-lina' should arrive before the end of this set , if Sam keeps up this level of play

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:24 PM

Aussiemarg,
Cliff Drysdale is comparing Samantha's first and second serve where she bends her body more on her 2nd serve for the kick action and now, Pam chides in.

Posted by Bobby 04/18/2010 at 01:25 PM

Master Ace, are you sure that's what Stosur's wristband says? Did they say that? I was thinking to ask. Any questions for her?

Posted by lightforce 04/18/2010 at 01:26 PM

Question. I guess this one is for the Master Ace. Why are they making it appear that Rafa is the only player to have achieved winning the same tournament 6 times in a row. Surely, Navratilova has won 6 straight Wimbledon. Shouldn't they say male tennis player ?

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:27 PM

Samantha gets the insurnace at 30 capped off by hitting FH winner. Vera to serve 0-5

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:28 PM

Wow, Sam is impressive today.

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 01:28 PM

hey!!!!! wow stosur has really come out on fire today. she is hitting winners from all cylinders. impressive stuff. vera is going to have to step her game up some more.mmmhmmmm its true.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:28 PM

Bobby,
Yes, those 2 words are on her wristband. ESPN2 also confirmed this as Pam talked about Vera missing those components in her game at times,

Lightforce,
Correct as being the only ATP player to do so. Martina won Wimbledon from 1982 to 1987.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:28 PM

Master Ace
this must be a fast clay surface, faster than the red dirt in europe. seems like this green stuff in the US has always been nice to power players...didn't Sharapova win here

Aussiemarg
sad about sokol...
if you're out there sokol, lurk-no-more we miss your russian love

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:29 PM

MA well for the kicker serve you have to bend more lol!

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:30 PM

0-30 for Samantha as she hit FH winner DTL
2 UFEs each for Samantha and Vera
15-30 Samantha nets BH
Vera needs to attack that side more and changed the pace doing so
15-40 Vera DF
Samantha gets bagel in 19 minutes. 24-5 pts for Samantha

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:30 PM

lightforce good point.Rafa is the first Male player to win 6 titles.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:31 PM

lightforce
I believe Rafa is the only player in the history of tennis to win a tournament 6 times in a row not losing a set during that stretch...impressive...and next week he maybe going for the same type of record

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:31 PM

Yello Fuzzy,
No, Maria won at Amelie Island over Dominika. Serena beat her in the QF at Charleston.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:32 PM

MA
thanx for the clarification
but other power players have been successful here, no?

Posted by Coby 04/18/2010 at 01:33 PM

Good girl Sammy!!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:33 PM

Bobby

Sam appears to me anyway more relaxed and confident on clay

Does Sam now feel the same way? remembering her s/final at RG09.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:34 PM

Yello Fuzzy,
Think green clay play more closer to hardcourt than the red clay. WTA red clay season really starts on Stuttgart on 4/26 when the ATP play in Rome.

14 winners for Samantha in the first set.

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:36 PM

yello fuzzy,
You might be on to something. Venus, Mary Pierce, Capriati also won in Charleston.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:36 PM

Sam is not missing, Vera hasn't been allowed to participate in this match

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:36 PM

Samantha holds at 15 as she hit a FH winner past Vera. Vera to serve 0-6,0-1

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:36 PM

great footwork Sam to make that shot

Posted by chicklet 04/18/2010 at 01:37 PM

yellow fuzzy - Wait, Rafa has never lost a SET at MC for the past 6 years? That's ridiculous.

Sam is laying beat down right now. She's playing brilliantly, but I expected more from Bepa.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:37 PM

Pam is such a jock, she's raving about the sporting news on ESPN last night

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:39 PM

0-30 for Samantha as Vera nets FH as Samantha BH slice stayed long
Add Serena to winning Charleton
0-40 Samantha BH winner DTL
Samantha breaks as she hit FH winner

Samantha to serve 6-0,2-0

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:39 PM

Oh dear, Vera gets broken at love. I can just feel the tears welling up in Vera's eyes.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:39 PM

chicklet
I am sure I heard the commies say that at the end of his match today...one of our resident statisticians could help to verify...

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:40 PM

20-2 W/UFEs for Samantha in her first 8 games

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:41 PM

Samantha consolidates at love capped off by ace at the T. Vera to serve 0-6,0-3

Vera coach coming on the court but can not cover the mic.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 04/18/2010 at 01:41 PM

Great read. I sure wish Caro was out there because this match is so boring, it's not competitive. This is pathetic!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:42 PM

Good to see Sam still having the same momentum in the 2nd set as she cemented in the 1st set.

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 01:42 PM

this really is a demolition in progress. simply amazing stuff from sam. the best she ever played.

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:44 PM

Don't worry Samantha Elin,

The moonballs have arrived. Caro is there in spirit.

Posted by CL 04/18/2010 at 01:44 PM

Hee - looks like Sam took a leaf out of Rafa's book.

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:45 PM

Hehehe, the crowd applauds Vera's tantrum.

Posted by CL 04/18/2010 at 01:46 PM

And one out of Fed's too!!! LOL...though even Fed didn't actually kick the racket when it was down..ROFL!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:46 PM

Poor Vera

Poor Racquet!!!

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 01:46 PM

amazing temper tantrum!!!!!! yessss!!!! i love ittt!!!!!!

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:47 PM

15-40 for Samantha as Vera DF
Vera smashed her racquet on ground in disguist and the racquet break and crowd cheers for the racquet smash
30-40 Samantha BH return long
40-40 Samantha nets FH return
A-40 Vera BH winner
Vera holds as Samantha BH return sails long

Samantha to serve 6-0,3-1

Big game for Samantha here...

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:48 PM

The crowd is loving Vera now after that tantrum. Hearty applause after she finally wins a game saving 2 break points.

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 01:48 PM

and vera gets on the board thanks to her temper tantrum. now can she make something of it?

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:48 PM

this is great...no Crumble-lina today , she more like Racketsmasherina,

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 01:52 PM

that racket is ca ca..thats some serious frustration...I like that better than her trademark crumble

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:53 PM

Oh lawd have mercy, now Pammy is saying Sam is one of the favorites at RG.

I'll believe it when I see it Pammy. Sam isn't playing Justine out there.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:54 PM

Commies

What would we do with out them lol!

Posted by PapaQ 04/18/2010 at 01:55 PM

"Commies

What would we do with out them lol!"

Enjoy the tennis?

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 01:57 PM

say what break chance?????

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 01:58 PM

Back on serve. That tantrum really helped Vera.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 01:58 PM

0-30 for Vera as Samantha FH sails long
15-30 Samantha FH winner on short return
15-40 Samantha nets FH
First BP for Vera at 45 minute mark
Vera breaks as Samantha BH sails wide

Vera to serve 0-6,3-4

Posted by chicklet 04/18/2010 at 01:59 PM

Crowd is loving this comeback. Second set is back on serve!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 01:59 PM

Sam you need to look at those words on your wrist band and Believe in them.

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 01:59 PM

now the match has started!

Posted by chicklet 04/18/2010 at 02:00 PM

Vera has mental fortitude? The commies are cracking me up.
Well timed tantrum though.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 02:00 PM

D'oh....Sam was already in the shower in the lockerroom

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 02:01 PM

Nice to see Vera not give up. It keeps me interested in the match despite the scoreline.

Posted by CL 04/18/2010 at 02:01 PM

Uh-oh - Vera in danger of losing the plot again.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 02:02 PM

0-30 for Samantha as she comes to net and hit FH winner
15-30 Vera FH winner behind Samantha
4 winners for Vera(32 for Samantha)
15-40 Vera BH wide as Samantha came to net behind FH
Samantha breaks as she hit FH winner set up by great FH return

Samantha to serve for the match 6-0,5-3

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 02:03 PM

or not. now sam will serve for the match and her biggest title to date.

Posted by CL 04/18/2010 at 02:03 PM

Still, Sam is earning it. She is playing very well indeed. Serve, esp.

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 02:04 PM

three match points.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 02:05 PM

15-0 Samantha Ace at the T - 113 mph
30-0 Vera return long
40-0 Samantha smash winner coming to net behind FH
Samantha wins the match as her FH was too hot for Vera

Samantha Stosur defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-0,6-3. Biggest title for her career

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 02:05 PM

Sam's FH has also been impressive in this match. And she gives Mother Kim the boot from the Top 10.

Congrats to Aussiemarg and other Sam fans.

Commies to Vera fans.

Posted by Master Ace 04/18/2010 at 02:05 PM

36 winners for Samantha out of her 54 points won. Well deserved for her

Posted by london 04/18/2010 at 02:06 PM

congrats to stosur she really earned this match. wow the best she ever played! she is looking like a serious top player if she keeps playing like this.

Posted by yello fuzzy 04/18/2010 at 02:06 PM

Sam is back on track, Vera is getting bashed off the court again...
an amazing display tennis by Sam. She's serving well coming in, slicing , dicing, making Julienne Fries out there, she's the Popeil pocket player..wow

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 04/18/2010 at 02:07 PM

I agree with Pam that Stosur is one of the favorite at RG, IF Juju, Kim, Serena and a few others decide to stay home. Rolleyes! Stosur at 26 belong to the same era as these players.Congrat on her second title.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/18/2010 at 02:07 PM

Sam the best tournmant I have seen you play

Though you saved your best for the final.

Well done.

Bad luck Vera,Sam was just too good today

Posted by Coby 04/18/2010 at 02:09 PM

Awesome Sammy!!! Been waiting a long time for her to play a match like that, a complete match, hitting on all cylinders throughout.

Well done to Bepa for getting to the Final at a tournament that really ruined her season last year.

Posted by Coby 04/18/2010 at 02:10 PM

"ruined her season" = tore up her ankle.

Posted by tennisesq. 04/18/2010 at 02:13 PM

Vera is all smiles at the trophy ceremony.

Posted by adicecream 04/18/2010 at 02:16 PM

Sam Stosur!!! That was an amazing display from one of my favorites.

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