Tramlines

Injury can be easy way out

Tramlines

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Tennis players really need to grow a pair.

There, Tramlines said it. You see, there
is nothing - NOTHING - more frustrating than a match that suddenly ends with
one of the protagonists suddenly claiming that a splinter in the foot means
they cannot possibly go on.

At this year's US Open, a record number of
players have quit. A few you could understand - after all, if you really are
injured, then you can't play top-level tennis. However, with walkovers and
withdrawals added to those who start and cannot finish their games, a total of 18
have pulled out of matches at Flushing Meadows in 2011.

That is two more than the previous Grand
Slam record, set at Wimbledon in 2008. And we have not even started the last-16
stage.

So far there have been 216 matches from
the first round proper onwards, meaning the 'bottle-it' rate is over eight per
cent. If you sit down to watch matches on two days in New York, the chances are
you will see someone making an early exit with their kit bag, headed for the
Lower East Side.

With 38 matches remaining, at that rate at
least three more will suffer the same fate (if Trammers can do its math correctly
after more than 20 hours awake). That means we could have 21 withdrawals by the
tournament end.

See what Mats Wilander thinks of the retirements below (note: Trammers wrote its blog before watching this video!)

Such problems are of course more
pronounced in tennis, where injury leads to a direct result. Of the other major
sports, this is only seen in boxing - but that is sort of the whole point of
that contest anyway.

Tennis is a very physical game, demanding
power and flexibility while its participants become extremely fatigued. But there
is no direct contact - unless you count the ball, and it is rare that a
professional is hit accidentally in that way.

Trammers just can't shake the feeling that
some players think quitting hurt gives them a valid excuse when losing in a
match. How often do you see players leave a contest from a winning position?

It hardly needs saying, but the fans who
flock to watch the world's best players in action at the Slams deserve better
than the sight of someone forlornly waving to them as they troop off court with
a pained expression.

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And in the final Slam of the year, you'd
think that some of the players would just get on with the job - whether they
can win the tournament or not.

What do you think? Is Trammers being too hard on today's top athletes? And in which other sports could an injury directly affect the result? (Snooker? Darts?)

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One player who has a reputation for
bottling it - or at least used to - is Novak Djokovic.

The Serb looked pained at times in his
chair during the first set, leading to concerns that he is nursing an illness
or injury right at the time that he has his best chance of winning the tournament.

However Nole, twice a finalist in New
York, went on to dispose of a resurgent Nikolay Davydenko to reach the last 16
with a minimum of fuss.

Tramlines loves the Djoker and would be
more than happy to see him win a third Slam this year - but it wishes he would
stop doing the 'wacky' dancing that followed his Arthur Ashe Stadium success.

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Injuries that have put paid to US Open dreams: Shoulder, abdominal muscles, hamstring, lower
back, cramping, rolled ankle, food poisoning, autoimmune disorder

Quote of the day: Sir Alex Ferguson
could learn a thing or two from Marin Cilic's veiled criticism of match
officials: "The only thing I'm not happy about is that referees are
not consistent. I'm not saying they were wrong, they should just be more
consistent - with the other players."

Upset of the day: Technically
it is 28th seed Serena Williams beating fourth seed Victoria Azarenka in
straight sets, but Trammers would probably have put money on Serena if pushed
to choose beforehand. Instead it will go for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's straight-sets
job on 11th seed Jelena 'Weird Al' Jankovic  

Looking ahead: If Andy Murray is
to meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, a tough contest against a left-handed
Spaniard in the form of Feliciano Lopez may serve him well.

Caption competition:

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Don't forget to follow Tramlines on Twitter for all the latest ramblings of a defunct area of the tennis court. Unless you're playing doubles.

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