No body part is being spared in the final month of the WTA and ATP Tour seasons.
Within 24 hours, three top players have been affected – by three different areas.
For David Goffin, it’s bad enough that he has ended his season.
And No. 1 Simona Halep might not be far behind.
Goffin, a Belgian would have been the star attraction in the Antwerp ATP tournament.
But his right elbow injury has or will cost him Tokyo, Shanghai, Antwerp, Basel and Paris as he contemplated a late run to quality for the ATP Tour finals.
Goffin stands 13th in the live rankings for London. But with two Masters 1000s and two 500s still on his schedule, he had to think he’d have a shot, if healthy.
The diagnosis is a bone bruise. Goffin wrote on social media that it would take at least a month to heal. And so he has to call it a year.
Some news… pic.twitter.com/IhJdPxbM23
— David Goffin (@David__Goffin) October 3, 2018
That’s going to deal a blow to Goffin’s ranking, as he had been defending titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo, Basel, Paris and the final at the ATP Tour finals. He will surely drop out of the top 20.
It’s not the only bum elbow to emerge this week.
Earlier this week, during his first-round match, Canadian Milos Raonic had some treatment in the left elbow area. Although he has gone on to win his first two matches in Tokyo leaning more heavily on his perfectly adequate slice backhand.
Earlier this year, it was a bad elbow that compromised the first half of Nick Kyrgios’s season.
Ostapenko wrist since before Seoul
For Jelena Ostapenko, a left elbow issue contributed to an embarrassing double bagel at the hands of Qiang Wang in Beijing Tuesday.
It was the first 6-0, 6-0 drubbing the 21-year-old Latvian has ever suffered – even going back to her junior days at the ITF level.
At 0-6, 0-5, having signalled she needed the trainer on the previous changeover, Ostapenko had some treatment on the elbow before Wang readied to serve for the match. It was, obviously, much too late by then.
The elbow would not have physically affected the serve and the forehand, both just as problematic in a fairly disastrous outcome. But it would have been on her mind.
Ostapenko said afterwards that she started feeling it back home in Latvia, the week before the tournament in Seoul two weeks ago. The original diagnosis was inflammation, and Ostapenko has been on “very strong painkillers”.
She continued to play, through, through Seoul and a first-round singles loss and two doubles matches in Wuhan, and then first-round win in Beijing over Magdalena Rybarikova.
“I feel it already since a couple of weeks. I thought it was going to be better. Unfortunately today in the warmup, I already started to feel it … After Seoul it got much worse. Unfortunately now I’m feeling it a lot. I couldn’t really play my game because of my wrist also.” Ostapenko told the media in Beijing.
She came into the press conference with a brace on her left arm.
“I thought maybe during the match, when I get warm, it will be better. And I was trying to play until the last point because I really don’t like those retirements during the match,” she added. “Once you go on court, you probably have to complete the match.”
On the hopeful side, Ostapenko has not yet officially withdrawn from a planned participation in the Hong Kong tournament next week.
The list of players who have been compromised by wrist injuries over the last few years need not be reiterated here.
Back woes sideline Halep
For Simona Halep, the back issue that first flared up in Wuhan went from muscle to bone and made it impossible for her to continue during her first-round match against qualifier Ons Jabeur in Beijing.
After losing the first set 6-1, she had to stop.
“The muscle is better, the muscle of the back. But now I started to feel (Saturday) in the bones. All body was really contracted. I couldn’t play,” Halep told the Beijing media after the retirement.
She said she felt it in the practice before the match, and from the get-go in the match.
And when the Romanian returned home to have an MRI, the news wasn’t great.
Halep announced she has a herniated disc.
Hi everyone, wanted to give you a quick update. I had an MRI on my back and found out I have a disk hernia.
I will discuss with doctors in the next few days but hope to be back soon and will keep you updated. Thanks for all your support ❤️ pic.twitter.com/tQ6cFTsB9o
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 2, 2018
Halep had no more tournaments scheduled before the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore.
But she has less than three weeks to heal up, and make another trip down to Asia to try to compete. It seems optimistic, at best.
Halep hasn’t won a match since defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the Cincinnati semifinal in mid-August.
She had a great run on the US Open leadup, winning Montreal and reaching that Cincinnati final. But she became the first No. 1 to lose in the first round during the Open era, falling to Kaia Kanepi.