After 2016 Australian Open, Roger Federer remained sidelined from active tennis for about two months due to a knee injury, for which he had to undergo surgery. After he announced his return to Miami Open, he disappointed his fans by withdrawing at the last moment due to a stomach virus. Now the Swiss Maestro is out of 2016 Mutua Madrid Masters due to a back injury. As for women’s world no.1 Serena Williams, organizers learnt that the American had been battling flu and was less than 100% fit. Serena has played in only three tournaments in the 2016 season and hasn’t won a title since the Cincinnati Open in August 2015. This year, Serena lost in the final of Australian Open to Angelique Kerber and at the Indian Wells final; she was knocked out by Victoria Azarenka. Last month, Serena suffered a fourth-round exit at Miami Open, where Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated her. Meanwhile, the 2016 Mutua Madrid ATP & WTP Open has reached the halfway stage with world no.1 and top seed Novak Djokovic reaching the third round. However, the tournament has already witnessed an exit-gate beeline for some top players and latest news involved Victoria Azarenka, who conceded her third round match to American Louisa Chirico due to injury.
At the same age of 34 years, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are two mighty pillars of modern tennis and they can justifiably claim the credit for the game’s current and massive global popularity. Although the two players have been vehement in denying about their retirement plans in the foreseeable future, the physical conditions of their bodies seem to be telling a different story. In the current tennis season, Federer and Serena have played in just three tournaments each and the reasons for both are ominously similar. They are not match-fit due to one injury or another. After an arthroscopic surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee, Federer announced his return to Miami Open only to withdraw at the last moment due to a stomach virus. At Mutua Madrid Masters too, the Swiss announced after Saturday’s practice session that he had picked up a back injury and wouldn’t participate. Federer lost to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the second round last year at Madrid, a tournament he has won three times in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Serena is down with a bout of flu and has failed to win a major tournament after her title victory in the 2015 Cincinnati Open eight months ago. Regardless; Serena is still the world no.1 and Federer, world no.3 amongst men. The Swiss has also acquired a universal popularity tag to the extent that he commands unstinted crowd support at the Grand Slam tennis courts of Melbourne, Paris, London, New York and anywhere else in ATP World Tour. Even Djokovic has admitted about Federer’s close vibes with global tennis fans regardless of match venues.
In the 2016 Mutua Madrid Open, many seeded players have exited the tournament by Wednesday. Australian Nick Kyrgios defeated Switzerland’s 4th seeded Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 7-6 to set up a third-round clash with Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, who accounted for 13th seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils in three sets, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6. Earlier among women, Australia’s Samantha Stosur defeated 8th seeded Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and Russia Daria Gavrilova caused the biggest upset by beating defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-4. Tournament favorite Victoria Azarenka was doing well until she pulled out of the tournament to yield a third-round walk-over to USA’s Louisa Chirico. The American qualifier Chirico had earlier caused an upset by beating no.14 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia. Interestingly, the quarterfinal entrants in women’s draw feature 4 Romanians in second seeded Simona Halep, Irina-Camelia Begu, qualifier Patricia Maria Tig and wildcard Sorana Cirstea.
In men’s draw, top seed and world no.1 Novak Djokovic had little difficulty in disposing of Croatia’s Borna Coric and setting up a third-round meeting with Spain’s 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. Defending champion and second seeded Andy Murray and fifth seeded Rafael Nadal are already through to the third round. Other seeded stars progressing to the third round were; sixth seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori; 7th seeded seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Czech Republic’s 8th seeded Tomas Berdych; Spain’s 9th seeded David Ferrer, 10th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet, 11th seeded Canadian Milos Raonic and 16th seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon.