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Beyond the Baseline

Gael Monfils withdraws from Tokyo

Gael Monfils Gael Monfils pulled out of Tokyo with lingering knee pain. (Reuters)

Did Gael Monfils come back too soon?

Two weeks after playing his first tour-level match since May, Monfils withdrew from this week's Rakuten Open in Tokyo citing pain in his right knee. Monfils, who was set to play U.S. Open champion Andy Murray in the first round, will be replaced by a lucky loser, most likely Ivo Karlovic.

Monfils complained of knee pain as early as February this year when he withdrew from a tournament in San Jose. The Frenchman had been off the tour since May before making his return just two weeks ago in Metz. By all accounts the return was successful. He immediately made the semifinals in Metz and followed up that success with a quarterfinal appearance last week in Bangkok.

While his results were positive, Monfils couldn't shake the knee pain. French newspaper L'Equipe reports (Read Google translated version here) that Monfils felt pain in his right knee in his quarterfinal loss to Simon and will return home to France to see a specialist. The report did not rule out surgery as a possibility.

Much like Rafael Nadal, these knee injuries don't come as a shock when you watch Monfils slip, slide and leap on hard courts, seemingly unconcerned with the effect on his body. The question is whether he can adapt his play to take the stress off his knees while still effectively playing the dynamic type of tennis he loves. Considering that the guy went airborne just days into his comeback in Metz makes me wonder.

In other injury news, Kaia Kanepi, who returned after a long layoff two weeks ago in Seoul to make the finals, withdrew from the China Open with the same injury that's plagued her since the French Open, a right heel injury. French Open finalist Sara Errani retired in her first round match against Camila Giorgi in Beijing.

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