by Kevin Craig
The biggest news of the day at the French Open on Friday wasn’t caused by something that happened on the court, rather by a decision made by nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, who was the No. 4 seed in the event this year, announced that he had withdrawn himself from the tournament.
“This is one of the toughest press conferences of my career…If it wasn’t Roland Garros, I probably wouldn’t have taken the risks (of playing with an injury). It’s the most important event of the year for me,” said Nadal.
The cause of Nadal’s surprising decision was a left wrist injury that the Spaniard has been dealing with for the past “couple of weeks”, just another bullet point on a long list of injuries that have hindered his success in the past few years.
Nadal first felt pain in his wrist three weeks ago when he played in the quarterfinals of Madrid, but attempted to play through the pain in Rome, and then in Paris.
After beating Sam Groth and Facundo Bagnis in his first two matches in Paris, losing only nine games in the process, many began to believe that Nadal would be able to provide a tough challenge to Novak Djokovic in the latter stages of the tournament.
Unfortunately for Nadal and fans of tennis, there will not be a 50th meeting between the two great champions, as the pain in Nadal’s wrist continued to grow.
“I arrived here with a little bit of pain but I thought it was something I would be able to manage, but every day it got a bit worse,” said Nadal.
While many will be disappointed with his decision to leave the tournament, Nadal is doing what is best for him and his career as he is weary of the potential problems that would come from playing with his injured wrist.
“It’s not broken, but if I keep playing it’s going to be broken in the next couple of days,” said Nadal.
“To have won the tournament I would have had to play five more matches and the doctor told me that was 100 percent impossible,” said Nadal.
Nadal and his team hope that he will be able to play in Wimbledon and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that happens.
“I need a couple of weeks with the immobilization. Then we’re going to do the treatment and we hope the treatment works well. We expect to recover quick,” said Nadal.
Nadal’s withdrawal grants fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers a walkover into the fourth round.
On the court, headlines were made by 23-year old American Shelby Rogers as she upset two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova by a 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-0 score line.
After racing out a hot start, converting on three out of four break points and saving the only one she faced in the first set, Rogers began to be challenged by Kvitova in the second set. The Czechwoman had a breakpoint in Rogers’ first service game of the second set but couldn’t convert, but did grab her first and only break of the match when Rogers was serving up a break at 4-3 and looked like it could be a turning point.
Kvitova went on to take the second set in a tiebreak, but was unable to carry the momentum over into the decider. Rogers stood strong and continued to play well as she had done all match, going up 0-40 in Kvitova’s first service game and breaking for an early lead. Kvitova had a look to break right back, but once again failed to convert on a break point, and that was ultimately where the match ended.
Rogers went on to break twice more, with a hold at love thrown in the middle, to close out the set and the match.
Rogers, the No. 108 player in the world, earned her first appearance in the fourth round of a major with her win over the No. 10 seed. The moment gave Rogers, and fans of American tennis, plenty to cheer for and be emotional about.
“It was incredible…I’m one that cries very easily and I think everyone saw that. I immediately started crying,” said Rogers.
Irina-Camelia Begu, the No. 25 seed from Romania, will be Rogers’ next opponent.