Sunday, February 8, 2009

The oddest injuries in tennis

By Mark Hodgkinson

Pet pooches have been in the tennis news this week, after Kim Clijsters disclosed she had injured her tailbone after tripping over her dog while playing football. Clijsters revealed she was kicking a ball around her garden with her father and her boyfriend when she collided with her hound, Diesel.
"I stumbled over Diesel and fell badly. Very stupid. Fortunately it was nothing serious but it was bad enough to have to take two days of rest," Clijsters said, but the Belgian, who has not played on the tour for two months because of a wrist injury, indicated that she is still scheduled to return to the circuit on Monday.
Still, Clijsters has entered the hall of fame of tennis's bizarre injuries and ailments.
Unsurprisingly, Goran Ivanisevic is already in there. The Croatian had to withdraw from a tournament in Miami in 2003 when, while taking a stroll along a Florida beach, he stepped on a sharp seashell and damaged his foot.
There was another occasion in the late 1990s when he was playing a doubles match in Toronto, partnering Australian Mark Philippoussis, and decided to head the ball over the net. Unfortunately, Philippoussis arrived at the same time to play a more conventional stroke, and the two banged heads together. Ivanisevic needed stitches (the crowd were in stitches), and Philippoussis was concussed.
And, what about the time when Ivanisevic walked out of his Monte Carlo apartment to go off to practise, and then suddenly realised he had forgotten his rackets? He tried to run back inside, but the door slammed shut and broke several of his fingers.
Or how about Yevgeny Kafelnikov? The Russian had to withdraw from the 1997 Australian Open after damaging his hand while hitting a punch-bag.
Clijsters is not the first tennis player to have an animal-related injury. German Gottfried von Cramm, Fred Perry's pre-Second World War rival, lost part of his index finger as a child while feeding sugar to a horse. But he went on to win the French Open twice, in 1934 and 1936.
There is another interesting inter-war tale as well, as Mary Bundy, an American, famously fractured her leg while playing a match at the 1930 US Open but insisted on carrying on, staggering around the court with the use of a crutch. She lost, by the way.
Can anyone think of any other odd tennis ailments and injuries?

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