The main action of the US Open begins next Monday, but the 2010’s concluding major will have a decimated look to both singles’ draws with men’s champion Juan Martin Del Potro and women’s world no.1 Serena Williams. However Kim Clijsters, 2009 ladies champion, declared she will definitely defend her crown come what may despite suffering an injury scare in Montreal.
Clijsters hurt a hip while executing one of her trademark ‘splits’ during the Rogers Cup semi-final against Vera Zvonareva. She played on before eventually losing to this year’s Wimbledon finalist from Russia in three sets but then stated her concerns about being fit for New York.
However two days rest and plenty of treatment put the Belgian in a far more positive frame of mind. “I am in no doubt over my participation in the US Open," she declared. “Maybe I will have to take precautions but a lot of girls these days play with tape for protection. It doesn’t mean you can’t compete. I will likely have some strapping on my leg but that does not mean that I will not be at full fitness."
There was no great surprise when first Williams and then Del Potro announced over the weekend that their battles to recover following surgeries had simply run out of time and it was necessary that common sense prevailed.
Williams, winner of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, cited insufficient recovery time from surgery necessary to her right foot on July 15 after she stood on broken glass in Munich soon after her Wimbledon triumph against Russia’s Vera Zvonareva. The 28 year-old, who extended her collection of major singles titles to 13 at the All England Club, has only played six tournaments this year. “It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the US Open,” said Williams who has won the American Grand Slam event three times. “My doctors have advised against my playing.”
Williams did manage to play in an exhibition match in Brussels against Kim Clijsters, staged before the biggest ever crowd in the history of tennis, 35,680, between the accident and the surgery, which took place in Los Angeles. However she added on Twitter: "I'm devastated to not be participating in US Open. Grand slams are my life. My soul. . . I will miss it more than you can ever imagine."
Del Potro has not played since the Australian Open in January after recurring problems with his right wrist and had surgery at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic on May 4 to try and cure the problem. He is only a couple of weeks away from being ready to play but action at Flushing Meadows comes just fractionally too soon.
"I'm so sorry for my fans, sponsors and the people who care about me," said the 21 year-old Argentine who sensationally ended Roger Federer’s ambition of winning six US Open titles in succession a year ago but slipped down to 10th position in the latest ATP World Tour world rankings released earlier today. "I have only started practicing in the last two weeks and unfortunately I cannot compete at the top level yet."
US Open tournament director Jim Curley voiced the widespread disappointment. "It is unfortunate that Juan Martin has not recovered from wrist surgery in time to defend his U.S. Open title,” he said. “We wish him all the best and look forward to his return to New York next year."
Commenting on Williams's withdrawal, which installs world no.2 Caroline Wozniacki, the 20-year-old Dane and last year's runner-up, as the tournament's top seed, a statement from the US Open organizers added: “Serena will be missed, but the tournament is about the competition and the players on the court. This year's US Open will be a memorable event, as it has been every year."
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