Injuries hit the 2021 US Open.
With just a day to go for the year’s final Grand Slam event of the year, the preparations have gotten underway. As some of the best in the world get ready to get back on the court, injuries have played their part too and there are quite a few big names that will miss out on the event.
Let’s look at some of the biggest names to have pulled out from the 2021 US Open.
Arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, Roger Federer’s withdrawal news was the most upsetting for the tennis world. The current world no. 9, who has struggled in the recent past with a nagging knee injury, sees the persistent injury keep him out of action once again.
The 40-year-old, who already underwent multiple knee surgeries last year, has just played 13 matches this year and withdrawn from some of the year’s biggest tournaments such as the French Open and the Olympics. Federer’s last competitive game was in July, at the Wimbledon quarterfinals, where he went down to Lorenzo Sonego.
The Swiss feels a surgery is necessary to prolong his career and is looking at the bigger picture as well, outside tennis.
“I’ve been doing a lot of chats with doctors about my knee, getting all the information since I hurt myself further during the grass court season at Wimbledon. It’s just not the way to go forward. To feel better, I’ll need surgery. I decided to do it. I’ll be on crutches for many weeks and out of the game for many months. It’ll be difficult in some ways but at the same time, I know it’s the right thing to do because I want to be healthy I want to be running around later as well,” Federer has said when talking about his injury troubles.
Defending champion Dominic Thiem pulled out of the US Open after suffering a wrist injury at the Mallorca Open earlier this year in June. The world no. 6, who has had a tough year so far, lost the opening round at Roland Garros and was knocked out in the fourth round by Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open. A knee injury along with the wrist injury picked up in Mallorca has seen Thiem withdraw from the Wimbledon Championship and the Olympics too.
Thiem announced that the wrist injury will not only see him miss out on the final Grand Slam event of the year but also the remainder of the season. “I’m really disappointed not to be able to defend the title in New York but I haven’t recovered from the wrist injury I suffered back in June at the Mallorca Open. Unfortunately, I’ve had to withdraw from the US Open and will miss the rest of the 2021 season. It has been a tough decision but I know this is what I have to do.” Thiem said.
The former US Open champion pulled out from the New York event after failing to recover from a left foot injury suffered earlier this year.
Wawrinka, who hasn’t played a competitive match since his loss in the opening round of the Qatar Open in March, went in for surgery after the Doha event. The Swiss needed another procedure on the same foot once again in June and has not played since, missing out on the French Open and Wimbledon.
With the 36-year-old withdrawing it has opened up an avenue for former world no. 1 and 2012 US Open champion, Andy Murray. Murray, who had withdrawn from the Olympics earlier this year due to a strained right quadricep, has qualified for the Winston-Salem Open, the final tournament before the US Open, as a wildcard entry and will join the Grand Slam main event after being added to the main draw.
The world no. 4 also withdrew from the US Open just a week before the tournament.
Nadal has been nursing a persistent left foot issue that has seen him pull out of the Masters 1000 event in Toronto. The injury sees the Spaniard wrap up the 2021 season early and he will now take time to recuperate and get ready to get back on the court next year. Nadal has been plagued by injuries for quite some time now and has pulled out of multiple events in the recent past due to the same.
Speaking about his US Open withdrawal, Nadal said, “I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season, Honestly, I have been suffering much more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time … to find a solution to this problem or at least improve it in order to continue to have options for the next few years, I’m with the maximum enthusiasm and predisposition to do whatever it takes to recover the best possible shape to keep competing for the things that really motivate me. I’m convinced that with the recovery of the foot and obviously a very important daily effort … this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen.”
Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams also pulled out of the event just days before the tournament.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner, who had retired from the 2021 Wimbledon championships due to a hamstring injury, cited the same injury as reason for her withdrawal. Failing to recover from the injury meant, Williams will not get the chance to equal Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record, sitting just one behind.
Williams said, “After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring. New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite [sic] places to play – I’ll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone on from afar. Thank you for your continued support and love. I’ll see you soon.”
Williams last won a Grand Slam back in 2017, when she took the Australian Open. Since then, even though she has reached four major finals, the 24th Grand Slam title eludes one of the greats of the game.
Two-time champion Venus Williams withdrew from the US Open three days before the start of the tournament.
After her sister’s withdrawal, Williams announced her non participation too due to a persistent leg injury. Williams wrote on her Twitter account, “Not the best news everyone. I am joining @serenawilliams @rafaelnadal and @rogerfederer on the injured list. It’s still going to be a great US Open and many thanks to the @usta for the wild card. I was looking forward to a great US Open, but it was not meant to be this year. I will be back as soon as I can… And…clearly I am still undatable! Thanks Coach @erichechtman for being a good sport! And needless to say I will be spending every moment of my free time rehabbing my leg so I can get back to the courts ASAP. In fact I’m literally in the gym right now! God speed!”
On the same day as Venus Williams’ announcement, fifth ranked Sofia Kenin also pulled out of the US Open as the youngster had tested positive for COVID-19.
Kenin said, “Hi guys.. I am writing with disappointing news. Recently, I tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately I am vaccinated and thus my symptoms have been fairly mild. However I have continued to test positive and thus will not be able to compete at the US Open next week. I plan to spend the next several weeks getting healthy and preparing to play well this fall. Thank you all for supporting me. I want to wish all the players the best of luck in New York.”
Former world no. 3 Milos Raonic joined the likes of Rafael Nadal and Venus William as the Canadian withdrew from the US Open due to an injury on his right leg.
Raonic, who had played at the Atlanta Open, was looking forward to the US Open after sitting out the French Open and Wimbledon this year.
Even though some big names are missing out, the U.S Open still has plenty of fire power. All eyes though will be on Novak Djokovic as he chases a “Calendar Slam’ (winning each Grand Slam event in a single year) which will make him the first male athlete since Rod Laver to achieve the feat, who had done it for a second time back in 1969.