Johannesburg - A week before the start of the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year has been rocked by withdrawals. Local French hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the latest casualty after being forced to pull out due to injury.
He underwent surgery on his left knee last month and hasn’t played since retiring in the semi-finals of the ATP Marseille Open in February.
“I’m obviously very disappointed, but I still want to come to Lyon as an ambassador and to Roland Garros as a spectator,” Tsonga was quoted as saying on the Tennis X website.
Tsonga joins crowd favourite Roger Federer, who also ruled himself out of the tournament.
There is also doubt about South Africa’s Kevin Anderson’s participation after he injured himself in the Italian Open this week. It is believed that it could be a thigh injury that made him quit during a last 16 match in Italy against Slovenian Aljaž Bedene.
Anderson has reached a career high of number seven in the world.
This season has continued to be another successful one for the gangly South African after he won his inaugural title at the New York Open this year, and he reached two ATP finals in Pune and Acapulco.
His latest rise followed soon after he made history by reaching the Masters 1000 semi-final at the Madrid Open, where he was beaten by Austrian Dominic Thiem, who went on to lose the final.
Anderson has stayed within the top-10 ranked players in the world since February.
Hopefully, Spain’s Rafael Nadal’s spirit will not be dampened after losing his world number one spot to Federer at the beginning of the week.
In March, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer announced after his Miami Open loss to Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis that he’d skip the clay season for the second year in a row. This will be the third consecutive year that he’ll miss the French Open.
Federer got into pole position without picking up a tennis racket in the past few weeks.
Andy Murray, who turned 31 this week, last played a competitive match when he crashed out of the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.
He was due to come back in Brisbane before the Australian Open, but withdrew at the last minute and went under the knife.
He has hinted that he could return at the Libéma Open in the Netherlands next month.
Nadal’s fans may had a scare when he was eliminated at the Madrid Open despite being almost impossible to stop on clay.
The Spaniard still has a chance to redeem his number one Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking if he wins the Italian Open title today.
He remains the hot favourite at Roland Garros as he has won the tournament more than any player in history so far, and he is the defending champion.
The 10-time French Open winner’s quarter-final loss to Thiem last week not only cost him his status in the world rankings, but brought an end to his record 21-match unbeaten run on clay.
Before his fall in Madrid, the 16-time Grand Slam winner captured the Monte Carlo and Barcelona Open titles.
The second Grand Slam of the year starts next Sunday.