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By Erik Gudris / Sunday, January 5, 2014


A growing list of injured players, including John Isner and Sloane Stephens, is a cause for concern before the start of this month's Australian Open.

Photo Credit: Corleve

Will it ever end?

That seems to be the question many are asking regarding the growing list of injured players in the early days of the 2014 season. Especially with the first Grand Slam tournament of the season only a week away. While efforts by both the ATP and WTA tours in recent years to shorten the playing season have helped some pros, others are being forced to limit their time on court. That could prove a disadvantage before the start of the upcoming Australian Open.

More than 20 players so far have either retired from matches, withdrawn from warm-up events or have made the decision to bow out entirely from competing in Melbourne.

The latest includes 2013 Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens. The American star pulled out of her opening round match at the Apia International event in Sydney due to a left wrist injury she picked up while competing at the Hopman Cup earlier in the month.

“I was having some pain in my wrist and the doctor recommended I not play this week," Stephens said to the event's website.

Fellow American John Isner is also unsure of his participation at the upcoming ATP event in Auckland, New Zealand. Isner re-injured his right ankle while also competing at the Hopman Cup.

Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from last week's Brisbane International due to shoulder pain, though she is expected to play in Sydney. Vasek Pospisil retired in his semifinal versus Stanislas Wawrinka in Chennai after the Canadian experienced back pain late in the second set.

Austria's Jurgen Melzer will not play at the Australian Open due to an ongoing shoulder issue. Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic also pulled out as he continues to deal with a heel injury. Fabio Fognini of Italy is himself in doubt for Melbourne after he withdrew from Chennai with a right thigh injury.

"I really don't know what I will do now. Whether I should go home, or go to Sydney to practice. At this stage I can't say I will be fit for the Australian Open," Fognini said last week.

Sports performance coach Allistair McCaw, who has worked with 11 Grand Slam champions, recently posted on his Facebook page his thoughts as to why this wave of injuries is happening so early. For McCaw, the reasons include that players don't fully recover from the previous season, poor scheduling at the start of the new season and some starting their pre-season training too early.

Still, some players feel that the never-ending tennis season needs to be shorter. Australia's Arina Rodionova posted this message on Twitter.

Main draw play at the Australian Open starts on Jan. 13.


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