Emma Raducanu’s injury curse has struck again after she was forced to retire from her Rothesay Open Nottingham first-round match against Viktorija Golubic, casting major doubt on her fitness for Wimbledon.
But what happened, will she be fit for Wimbledon, and – having also pulled out of matches with hip and back issues – why does she keep breaking down?
Raducanu suffered what she branded an “absolute freak” side strain in the opening game of the match, playing bravely on after intensive treatment before eventually succumbing to the pain. Dr Ralph Rogers, a consultant in regenerative orthopedics and sports medicine and former first-team doctor at Chelsea Football Club, told Telegraph Sport: “The only thing I can think about, having not seen it, is that it’s some sort of abdominal strain, an acute strain. Because that’s how these things happen. “
Will she be fit for Wimbledon?
Unlikely if it is that type of injury, said Dr Rogers. “If it’s this kind of strain, it most likely would not allow her to play, or would not allow her to play effectively.” He added: “There’s a thing called the ‘Iceberg Principle’, which I refer to a lot when I talk to my patients. And what happens is, if you look at the tip of the iceberg just outside the water, it’s like, ‘I feel great’. If somebody injures themselves, after 10 days or whatever, they say, ‘I feel great’. But what happens is, underneath, the body’s still healing. And during that time, you still haven’t reconditioned, you still haven’t played your four-to-six hours of tennis, you still haven’t hit the ball. So, how effective will you be? ”
What if she misses Wimbledon?
It would arguably be the biggest setback of her fledgling career and rob her of the chance of redemption after she was forced to bring a premature end to her historic run to the second week on her debut last year. If the WTA backs down over its decision to strip this year’s event of ranking points, it could also cost her even more dearly in terms of her battle to remain among the elite following the defense of her US Open title. And it may rob both her own and Wimbledon’s sponsors of opportunities to activate campaigns predicated on her being there.
What if she rushes back?
Not a good idea, according to Dr Rogers. “Classically, especially in competitive athletes – maybe not so much nowadays in professional athletes because they’re actually held back – they come back too quickly and they reinjure,” he said. “And what we don’t want to see is her reinjured to the point that she can’t even play in the US Open. These kinds of injuries can be quite devastating, especially if she develops scar tissue. It’s not the type of thing that you can inject with local anesthetic to calm it down, because something like that will only do it more harm. That type of muscle injury, let’s say you do numb it up somehow. She still has to stretch for the ball, she still has to hit the ball. She can only do it further damage. “
Why does she keep breaking down?
“That’s the question I would be asking,” said Dr Rogers. “Is she getting enough sleep? Is she getting enough fitness? This is a young lady. Is she physically robust enough to handle this load, right now? Does she need to pull back to go forward? ” He added: “Let’s say it’s an abdominal strain. Why? Is it because of a back issue? Or if somebody had an abdominal strain and they went on to have a back issue, these are related – for sure. If they have those, who’s to say they can’t have a hamstring issue as well? These are all related because of the way we move – our movement patterns. “