Jon Wertheim reports from Roland Garros on Rafael Nadal's left wrist injury, Lucie Safarova, American Shelby Rogers, and drama between Alize Cornet and Tatjana Maria.
PARIS – Best-of-five from a Dispiriting Day 6.
• The big news today was, alas, the off-court variety. Shortly before 5 p.m., word whipped through the grounds that Rafael Nadal was holding an impromptu press conference. Looking positively dejected, Nadal announced that he was withdrawing from the event on account of a left wrist injury. Nadal had played well this spring—winning Monte Carlo and Barcelona—and dropped only nine games here in his first six sets at Roland Garros. But he claims he was risking a fracture by playing.
“I could play, but the thing is yesterday night I start to feel more and more pain, and today in the morning I feel that I could not move much the wrist. So I came here, I did MRI, and I did echography.
Well, and the results are not positive. The real thing is not 100%, you know. It's not broked, but if I keep playing gonna be broked next couple of days. Every day the image is a little bit worse.
It's obvious that if it's not Roland Garros I will probably not take risks on playing the first two days, but is the most important event of the year for me so we tried our best. We take risks yesterday. That's why we played with anesthetic injection, so without feeling at all on the wrist.
But, you know, when I am coming to Roland Garros, I am coming—today I am coming thinking about winning the tournament. To win the tournament I need five more matches, and the doctor says that's 100% impossible. That gonna be 100% broked. I cannot say in English because I don't know exactly the name. Is I think is the sheath of the tendon.”
Nadal, who turns 30 a week from today, will not win his 10th French Open this year. He hopes to be back for Wimbledon. He didn't hit a ball today and yet he changed the entire complexion of the men’s draw.
• Cruel sport, this tennis, Part Deux: A year ago Lucie Safarova reached the finals at Roland Garros, a fine performance that doubled as a bit of karmic justice. A well-liked and well-regarded player, Safarova had, at age 28, come with a set of winning a major and turned in a result worthy of her game and popularity. Since then it’s been—to use the voguish tennis locution—tough sledding. Safarova has been double-teamed by illness and injury, missed months of play and contemplating quitting entirely. She played well recently, but fell this afternoon to Sam Stosur in a hard-fought match. As recently as September, Safarova was ranked No. 5. When the next WTA rankings are released, she’ll be outside the top 25.
• On a happier note….Ever since Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in Rome on May 15, life has been complicated. There was the fallout of his split with coach Amelie Mauresmo, a darling in France. In Murray’s first match, he lost the first two sets before rallying to beat Radek Stepanek. In his next match, he needed five sets to beat French wild card, Mathias Bourge. On Friday, against a quality opponent in Ivo Karlovic, Murray played at an elevated level and won handily, a much-needed breezy day at the office.
• Another happy note: Ranked No. 108, Shelby Rogers, pride of Charleston, was the last player automatically into the main draw. To traffic in understatement, she has made the most of it. After winning her first two matches, Rogers took out two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova on Friday, 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-0—yes, that was really the score—to advance into the fourth round. (And a winnable match at that against Irina Camelia Begu.) Rogers might be overshadowed by the Williams sisters, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens—all of whom are still in the as we write this—but what a tournament for the 23-year-old American.
• Before the Nadal withdrawal, the buzz in the locker room was Thursday’s late match between France’s Alize Cornet and Germany’s Tatjana Maria. In the third set, Cornet, visibly cramping, took treatment on five changeovers. She claims that she was treated for separate injuries and not for the cramps. While Cornet did not, technically, violate the rules, she sure bent them. That she is a player known for her theatrics only made the situation more fraught. Cornet won in three sets, but Maria, disgusted and dejected, refused to shake her opponent’s hand. I am also told that Maria’s husband and Cornet’s coach had to be physically restrained outside the locker room. Tennis being pathologically into irony, Maria and Cornet faced each other in doubles today. Cold comfort, but this time it was Maria prevailing in three sets.