Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Break

James Blake took one (though, not on purpose) and Amelie Mauresmo seems to be on one of her own. Should players take it into their own hands on deciding when their personal off season is?

Three years ago, after the death of his father and struggling with an injury and a debilitating illness, James Blake took a break from tennis he didn't realize he needed. He played just five matches in the span of six months while re-cooperating physically and more importantly, emotionally.

When he returned to the tour, Blake worked his way back up the rankings (he had fallen to #210) and won two titles in New Haven and Stockholm and played that epic US Open quarterfinal match against Andre Agassi.

He felt fresh.
James Blake at the 2005 US Open (photo by Chance98 via flickr).

Yet as both tour work out the kinks in their respective tour schedules (ATP WTA) tournaments on all sides of the world all having the same problem: players pulling out due to injury (and fatigue and stress and illness and 'personal issues' and inflammation and infections...okay, you get the idea).

This week at Stanford, long a tournament adored by players such as Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Jennifer Capriati and others, this year features none of those players; the top two seeds are Anna Chakvetadze and Marion Bartoli.

And the Acura Classic next week in San Diego already has received withdrawal notices from Henin (wrist injury), Nicole Vaidisova (viral infection) Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic.

While many players struggle week-by-week to play through their pain (whether it be physical or mental) Amelie Mauresmo has had enough - at least temporarily.

After her breakthrough Slam season in 2006 in which she won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Mauresmo was just 8-3 in the majors this year, giving up both her crowns along the way. So the Frenchwoman has taken matters into her own hands at the start of the second half of the 2007 season: she's taking a holiday.

While Mauresmo is off "charging her batteries" (she may even miss the US Open), men's and women's tournaments alike will continue to deal with withdrawals, defaults and retirements due to over-worked players. But as Blake and Mauresmo have found, maybe the answer is to take control of your own schedule, not let the tour schedule you.

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