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Injuries becoming rite of autumn

A few thoughts from the tennis world ...

1. Dropping like flies? So when do flies drop? Don't answer that. Better imagery might be: dropping like tennis players in the fall. The latest injury report includes Roger Federer, out with back issues; Andy Murray, out with a wrist issue; and Ana Ivanovic, out with an upper respiratory infection that has ended her season.

If there's a silver lining, perhaps it's this: Players who were injured earlier in the year can recoup rankings points with so many ailing colleagues. Consider Maria Sharapova, who won her first event of the year over the weekend in Tokyo, after missing 10 months with a shoulder injury and struggling to find her form this summer. With any luck, Sharapova will build on this win and take some confidence into the offseason and then Australia, an event she won in 2008.

Alas, in Tokyo Sharapova played only seven games in the final because her opponent, Jelena Jankovic, retired with a right arm injury. Medic!

2. The year-end ATP Masters Cup has left Shanghai for London. But, in a rare tennis cameo for common sense, China got a fine consolation prize: this week's "mixed event" featuring some of the biggest names in the ATP and WTA. In his first event since the U.S. Open, Rafael Nadal is on hand. So are the Williams sisters. (Serena Williams can overtake No. 1 Dinara Safina with a victory Tuesday.) Like most sectors, tennis is still figuring out what to do about the China market: You need a presence there but you don't want to overplay the hand. This is a fair compromise.

3. There are no more majors on the year's docket and most players are "playing out the string," as they say in baseball. But that means opportunity for the opportunistic. France's Gilles Simon and Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, a pair of admirably steady, relentlessly un-flashy ATP worker bees, won titles last week. Is either a threat to win a Grand Slam? Probably not. But good for these guys for putting in the effort, especially so late in the season.

4. Jumping the Shark: Was it only six months ago that Sports Illustrated ran this story about "sweethearts" Greg Norman and Chris Evert? As you've no doubt heard, the couple issued a statement last Friday evening -- when most unflattering releases are distributed -- announcing their separation.