These players were forced to leave the tournament after being unable to continue further.
Although a non-contact sport, Tennis is known for its high intensity and effort. As the players push to their absolute limit, it takes a toll on their body. Therefore, injury concerns are common among the players. As a result, World No.1 Ashleigh Barty recently retired from the French Open 2021, owing to injury.
Players often opt out of Grand Slams or other tournaments after injury to rest and recover, especially when there are nagging issues. Let’s take a look at five Tennis stars who withdrew from the French Open for injuries.
5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The 2016 French Open claimed its third major victim when countryman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga had to leave after suffering a leg injury. Sixth-seeded Tsonga was leading his Latvian opponent Ernests Gulbis, five games to two in the first set before he had to leave the court.
The Frenchman who had reached the semifinal at the Roland Garros in 2020 was left in tears. Earlier in the tournament, he had overcome Jan-Lennard Struff and Marcos Baghdatis in the first and second rounds respectively and was looking to make another promising run to the final stages before a premature third round exit.
4. Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka came into the 2016 French open with high hopes. The Belarusian lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2016 and was the fifth seed in the Roland Garros. She was battling against Italian Karin Knapp in the first round before being forced to exit the competition due to a knee injury.
Knapp had won the first set before losing the second on tie-breakers. The Italian was leading against Azarenka 4-0 in the deciding set before Azarenka removed herself and announced her retirement from the competition. Fourth seeded Garbine Muguruza beat Serena Williams in the final to win the French Open that year.
3. Ashleigh Barty
The 2019 French Open winner Ashleigh Barty was on way to mount another title challenge in 2021 before she was forced off midway through her second round encounter with a hip injury. The Australian was facing Polish star Magda Linette, who had won the first set 6-1. Barty retired from the game during the second set, the scores being 2-2.
She had previously beaten American star Bernarda Pera in three sets in the first round. It was during this first round match-up when the initial problems began to develop. The 25-year-old was in the prime position to win back her Roland Garros title after World No.2 Naomi Osaka (mental health problems) and Simona Halep (injury) withdrew from the competition. Barty had previously retired from the Italian Open a month before citing injury concerns.
2. Serena Williams
Serena Williams is one of the most successful stars in the history of the women’s tennis circuit. She was en route to equaling Margaret court’s 24 Grand Slam Singles titles when disaster struck in the 2020 French Open. Serena was all set to face Bulgarian player Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round. However, before the tie took place, she announced her withdrawal due to an Achilles injury.
The American had previously beaten fellow countrywoman Kristie Ahn in straight sets in the first round. But, she was struggling to walk properly and decided to focus on recovering the issue. The Achilles injury first flared up in her US Open semifinal defeat against Victoria Azarenka earlier in 2020. The three-time winner at Roland Garros was seeded sixth for the competition.
1. Rafael Nadal
The then nine-time Roland Garros champion was left frustrated after he had to withdraw from a third-round game against compatriot Marcel Granollers in 2016. Nadal encountered injury issues with his wrist when he took part in the Madrid Open earlier that year. The left-wrist injury persisted and bothered him in his straight set victory against Australian Sam Groth in the first round of the French Open.
He was forced to use painkiller injections in the second round against Argentine star Facundo Bagnis. However, after the straight sets victory, he was forced to retire. Nadal’s doctor had warned the Spaniard that a possible fracture could be imminent if he plays through the pain.
The retirement came with several questions regarding Nadal’s age and deteriorating health. However, he silenced all critics by winning the next four French Opens to make it 13 in total.