Injuries are already taking their toll, and 2016 hasn’t even begun.
It began with the IPTL exhibition league in late November and early December, when both Canadian Milos Raonic and Frenchman Richard Gasquet bailed out early with back woes.
Gasquet, who has dealt with this before, has already declared himself out of the Australian summer season.
The bug continued into the Hopman Cup, a fun mixed exhibition in Perth, Australia that has seen a number of name players drop out.
First was Casey Dellacqua, who also will miss her home country’s summer season as she continues to deal with the effects of a concussion sustained on court in Beijing in October.
Then, Lucie Safarova pulled out, replaced by Karolina Pliskova. This is another hangover from 2015; Safarova had a bacterial infection in the fall, and reportedly is still sick. Her preseason training block was basically scuttled.
This week, Gaël Monfils, who was to partner with Caroline Garcia, also pulled the plug from the Hopman Cup, because of an unspecified leg injury. Monfils was out of the IPTL after injuring himself in his very first match (he also had to bail from the IPTL a year ago).
The picking were slim at this stage for a replacement for Monfils in Perth, despite the prospect of a very nice cheque (A year ago, Benoit Paire stepped in before his disastrous effort in the Oz Open qualies – how long ago that seems already!)
They ended up settling for … Kenny de Schepper. At No. 148, he’s the 12th-best ranked French male player.
The question will be: is he prepared to be as good a sport as Nicolas Mahut was a few years ago?
In Abu Dhabi, sub Feliciano Lopez stepped in for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a fifth place match after the Frenchman was squashed 6-1, 6-1 in 54 minutes by David Ferrer in his first match. Official reason is a forearm injury.
On the plus side, at least Serena Williams seems on her way to Perth.
Beyond that, rising youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis is out of the Oz summer as well after undergoing what he termed “minor” shoulder surgery on Dec. 30. Not sure there’s ever anything minor about shoulder surgery for a tennis player, but hopefully it won’t put a kibosh on his 2015.
Here’s a list of withdrawals from the original entry lists for the first week of 2016.
Brisbane: Sam Querrey and Jerzy Janowicz
Chennai: Yen-Hsun Lu, Andreas Haider-Maurer and Janko Tipsarevic (whose career looks to be in serious jeopardy).
Doha: Steve Darcis
Brisbane (women): Lesia Tsurenko
Shenzhen: Olga Govortsova (also out of Hobart), Urszula Radwanska
(As of the moment, Govortsova is still in the Oz Open entry list; if she ends up playing it, that’s a direct reflection of the prize money earned by first-round losers).
As for the Australian Open, there are a total of 10 players in the two singles draws that are in on special injury rankings.
That’s a lot.
Juan Monaco is already out of the Australian Open, recovering from wrist surgery. Kokkinakis is out; Juan Martin del Potro was never in.