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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Challenges Faced in Recovering from Severe Tennis Injuries

Alexander Zverev was not blind to the fact that his circumstances were deteriorating for very long.

Zverev and Rafael Nadal were about to begin a second tiebreaker in their semifinal encounter at the French Open from the previous year. This came after hours of dazzling shot-making from both players.

However, all of a sudden, Zverev went wide for a forehand, twisted his right ankle on its side, and bellowed in pain. He fell to the ground, the back of his black sleeveless top caked with red dirt, and cradled his ankle in his hands while he was on the ground.

Zverev is not the first player to suffer a catastrophic injury and be forced to miss significant playing time as a result of the ailment.

His opponent that day, Rafael Nadal, hasn’t competed on the tour since the Australian Open in January, when he injured the psoas muscle that runs between his lower abdomen and upper right leg. Nadal’s injury occurred during the match. Nadal, who has also had chronic foot discomfort, a fractured rib, and a torn abdominal muscle in the last 18 months, withdrew from the French Open on May 18 after making many efforts to rehab the ailment over the previous four months. Nadal has also suffered from a torn abdominal muscle, a shattered rib, and a cracked rib in the past 18 months. He has won Roland Garros a total of 14 times and has participated in the event every year since it began in 2005. In addition to this, he said that he does not want to compete in Wimbledon and that he anticipates the year 2024 to be his last season on the professional circuit.

Emma Raducanu, who was the champion of the United States Open in 2021, has been plagued by injuries ever since, and she has just recently recovered from surgery on both of her wrists and one of her ankles. Before the 2019 Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open winner Andy Murray said that he will retire after the event. However, he came back, first playing doubles and then returning to singles after hip resurfacing surgery that was successful.

Injuries, surgery, and rehabilitation are three words that strike fear into the hearts of athletes everywhere. Working your way back into the ATP and WTA Tours may be physically, psychologically, and even financially taxing for professional tennis players since they are not covered by a team sport’s complete rehabilitation coverage but are instead classified as independent contractors. This makes it difficult for them to return to competition after an injury.

It’s possible that the process of getting back to work after an accident might be just as challenging as the ailment itself. A player’s ability to recuperate may be hindered by factors such as having to readjust to the rigours of continual travel and the strain of playing matches at all hours of the day and night, as well as worrying about the danger of reinjuring themselves.

Andreescu is aware of this. She had been suffering from back problems for the better part of 2022, but by the time the Miami Open rolled around in March, she had finally started to make a comeback. But during her play against Ekaterina Alexandrova in the fourth round, Andreescu lost her balance and fell on the ground, writhing in pain while grasping her left leg.

The World Tennis Association places a priority on injury prevention and recovery. The tour offers programmes and has staff members that are especially dedicated to the mental and physical well-being of the athletes. According to Carole Doherty, who is the senior vice president of sport science and medicine for the WTA, all of the organization’s players get complete medical treatment. Some of the services that are included in this care include cardiology, examinations with dermatologists, bone-density exams, as well as guidance about diet and hydration.

A WTA player who has been sidelined due to an injury or pregnancy for at least eight weeks in a row is eligible to apply for a Special Ranking. This ranking allows the player to resume her previous position in the rankings upon her return to competition and allows her to compete in up to eight events for a period of 52 weeks. Protected Ranking is the name of the same system used by the ATP.

Daria Saville is familiar with the fact that tennis is a game played for money. Since the year 2016, she has had recurring concerns with both her Achilles tendon and her plantar fasciitis. After the 2021 Australian Open, she had surgery, which forced her to take a nearly year-long hiatus from competitive tennis. Then, in September of last year, when she was competing in Tokyo, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament, which resulted in the need for further surgery.

Saville is fortunate in that the financial pressures she has have been alleviated as a result of the help she gets from her national federation, Tennis Australia. Tennis Australia is the organisation that pays for Saville’s physiotherapist as well as her strength and conditioning trainers. Her coach, the former professional tennis player Nicole Pratt, gives her motivational speeches as well.

When Thiem considers his wrist injury, he is able to make the connection between it and the time when he won the U.S. Open. As soon as he accomplished that objective, Thiem said, he abruptly lost his enthusiasm and ambition to play, which led him to practise with a lower level of intensity, which in turn led to the injury. Making this attempt to return has been challenging.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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