Notes on a Draw Sheet: injuries, again

Already, in February, there are a couple major injuries, like Maria Sharapova and Juan Martin del Potro. They won’t play at Indian Wells, and the Russian/American won’t go to Miami, either. The Argentine pulled out of Acapulco and Indian Wells. Whether he will return in Miami is up in the air.

Exactly why are there so many injuries, year after year, every month, everyday. The answer is pretty complicated, but the fact is that the vast majority of the pro players are playing way too many events. And they practice too much, also. Without a doubt, they want to improve, and improve how they are striking the balls, and in a sense, they have to, to get better. But if they want to stay on tour for a long time, they simply have to rest. It is a pain in the neck, but they have to be patient. Not enough people


There are some fine events this week. On Wednesday, Roger Federer took down Fernando Verdasco in three sets in Dubai. Somewhat casual, because he knows how to wear down his backhand. He did, and in a few days, he could win it all, and then, he will have 100 titles. That would be terrific, but he is asked about it, everyday. So, as he has said, he may not be nervous, but a little bit tight.

On Thursday, it took him almost two hours, and he survived the young Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6(6) 6-4. Tick, tock. In the other half, the best young player, the No. 11 Stefanos Tsitsipas, will face Gail Monfins in the semis. That should be a blast.

In Acapulco, Nick Kyrious edged Rafa Nadal 3-6, 7-6(3) 7-6(6). That was not a shocker, as Nadal is just coming back, and plus, when the Aussie is physically good, he can upend anyone. He hits a huge first serve, and forehand, and he can be efficient. But
he gets hurt all the time, so in order to win this tournament, he has to be patient and never give in.

But, the Australian remains hot, knocking off Stan Warinka in three sets. He’ll face John Isner in the semis.

On Thursday he will have to face the Swiss, Stan Wawrinka, at night. He will have to dig, because Wawrinka can return when he is locked in.

Isner beat his good friend, Sam Querrey, 6-4, 6-4. Querrey hasn’t done much this year, and Isner hasn’t either, but at least he has won a few wins in the past two weeks. In order to win the tournament, which will be tough, as a number of good players are still there: the Brit Norris, the Aussies Millman and Alex De Minaur, and the other American, Mackenzie McDonald, who upset Tiafoe in three sets. And of course, guess who will face De Minaur today? Alexandra Zverev, who has won some gigantic matches last year. But he can be somewhat inconsistent, and great, spending on the day.

Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia upset Sloane Stephens in Acapulco. The American hasn’t done great this year, she has played four tournaments and she lost against decent players, but not fantastic players. At Indian Wells she has to step on the gas.

Vika Azarenka took a wild card, and she crushed Danelle Collins, who reached the semis at Australia then goes down again. Vika still hasn’t gone deep enough in the past year, but she had a baby, so it takes a long time to recover. If she wins Acapulco, then she will be almost back. She will face Sofia Kenin on Thursday.

At Indian Wells, the Oracle Challenge is going on this week. It is different now, with more people, every year, it is gigantic. People will fly from all over the world. Twenty five years ago, there weren’t as many people. But they moved, very close in the desert, and they started to build. It is so muc better and bigger now. It is spectacular.

Qiang Wang is the top seed.