Retired ... and loving it
Record number of players calling it quits before finish linePosted: Wednesday August 28, 2002 1:54 AM
NEW YORK, Aug 27 (Reuters) -- Will the last man left standing please collect the trophy before leaving.
On the second day of the U.S. Open, a new Grand Slam record was set for first-round retirements after seven men were forced to bring their campaigns to a premature end.
The number of retirements also equals the previous record total for an entire U.S. Open tournament.
A total of seven players retired in New York in four other years (1979, 1993, 1998 and 1999). The record number of players to retire through an entire Grand Slam event is eight, set at the 1998 Australian Open.
The seven players are: Mario Ancic, leg cramps; Andrea Gaudenzi, headache; Julian Knowle, lower back; Richard Krajicek, left heel; Mark Philippoussis, left knee; Attila Savolt, right elbow; Rainer Schuettler, left leg.
There might have been even more casualties. Both Marat Safin and Nicolas Kiefer were treated for leg cramps during their 4-hour, 31-minute marathon, and wheelchairs were waiting in the wings to carry them back to the locker room if they suffered a meltdown.
Germany's Kiefer collapsed after going down 6-3 in the final-set tiebreak, drawing trainer Bill Norris, Wimbledon referee Alan Mills and even Safin to his side of the net to see how badly he was suffering.
"I didn't think about retiring," said Kiefer. "I wanted to continue, I wanted to finish it.
"It was a great match and it was great to be out there. But I've never had cramps before, and it was a bad feeling."
Safin blamed the modern power game for the rising number of injuries.
"We're playing faster and the level of tennis is growing. Everything is power and fitness now," said the 2000 U.S. Open champion.
"Sometimes you can't do it any more and the body breaks. You need to rest sometimes. Everybody's playing at such a high level that you need to take a rest every two, three weeks. Otherwise your body will be dead."
Although Australian Philippoussis suffered his injury by jumping high to execute a smash, his opponent Sjeng Schalken believes most injuries have been caused by the grind of the tour.
"I think the summer circuit is very tough," said the Dutchman.
"It's the humidity and heat. We had that in Washington and Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Everybody's getting fatigued."
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