June 10, 2009

Little Rest for the Weary

The French Open has barely been put to bed and already players are back in action as they gear up for the next leg of the tennis season.

With Wimbledon less than two weeks away, there's not a lot of time to warm up for the grass-court stretch, so it's no surprise that the tournaments this week boast some of the top talent -- Andy Murray is the #1 seed at Queen's Club in London and Novak Djokovic leads the pack in Halle, Germany.

But there are some notable absences this week -- and one that might be a little alarming.

Roger Federer, physically and emotionally drained after his historic victory in Paris, won't be seeking a sixth trophy in Halle. He announced on his website yesterday that he needs a little extra time to rest and recuperate after his run at Roland Garros.

More disturbing was the fact that reigning Wimbledon champ Rafael Nadal wouldn't be defending his title at Queen's Club due to a mysterious knee injury. He's been having trouble for some time, retiring from his quaterfinal match at the ATP Masters Series in Paris last year and subsequently pulling out of the year-end championships in Shanghai.

Nadal says he still plans to compete at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club and will fly to London next week. After his disappointment at the French Open I imagine that sheer pride will force him to show up, though he concedes he may have to withdraw if he doesn't feel he can give his best. On his homepage this week, he said:

"I am going to give my 200% to be ready for the most important tournament in the world. The tournament that I always dream about. I will not go out and play, especially on the Wimbledon Centre Court, if I am not 100% ready to play. I have two difficult weeks ahead of me, especially because I won't be doing what I like doing most, which is to play tennis."

Of course I wish him a speedy recovery, but -- a little bit selfishly -- I hope he's able to return in top form to defend his Wimbledon title. You have to admit there was something missing from last weekend's final, and I think it can only be cured with another Rafa-Roger showdown.

As we know, when they're playing their best, there's no greater show in sports. And this tournament won't be the same without them!

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