Tim Henman was among a series of pundits left “disappointed” by a tough afternoon at the ATP Finals that saw two stars take to the court injured. Stefanos Tsitsipas was forced to retire from his round-robin match while trailing Holger Rune 1-2. It meant that alternates Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz got to contest an exhibition set to give the fans some extra tennis but it quickly became clear that the American was playing through an injury of his own.
There were multiple injury woes during Tuesday afternoon’s session in Turin, with Tsitsipas having to stop his match against Rune just 17 minutes in. There had already been speculation that the Greek star was injured ahead of the tournament but he shut the rumours down following his first round-robin defeat to Jannik Sinner.
However, he felt something during the warm-up against Rune and had to call off the match after just three games as the crowd booed him for retiring. Under the tournament rules, with less than 50 minutes of the singles match played, the two alternates were called up to play a single set. But there were more boos when Fritz struggled to move or serve like his usual self as he played through an abdominal injury he recently picked up in Paris.
Henman later argued that Tsitsipas already knew he was injured while Greg Rusedski and Mark Petchey sympathised with the crowd after the afternoon’s events. “It’s been complicated,” former British No 1 Henman told Prime Video. “Obviously everyone gets very excited about that Rune-Tsitsipas match and then after three games it’s done and you have sympathy for Tsitsipas, I haven’t actually heard what he said.”
Click here to join our WhatsApp community to be the first to receive breaking and exclusive tennis news.
Just in Wimbledon major blow as ‘tennis Disneyland’ plan for 39 courts faces rejection[LATEST]
However, the 49-year-old wasn’t impressed with the world No 6 for taking to the court when he suspected that Tsitsipas already knew he was hampered. Henman continued: “But to pull out after three games is massively disappointing for everyone and if it’s one of those injuries where you felt like it might loosen up, it might warm up as the match went on, perhaps you’re going to give it a chance. But it felt like there were a few rumours that he wasn’t 100 per cent fit anyway so it’s very disappointing.”
As well as the let-down of Tsitsipas’ match ending early, Rusedski thought that it was an extra kick in the teeth for fans to watch an ailed Fritz contest an exhibition set against Hurkacz. “Extremely disappointing because on Saturday we thought he was going to pull out of the event because there was all this conversation about the elbow problem, he wasn’t practising,” he said of Tsitsipas.
“And then he showed up, he played his opening match. He actually played pretty well against Jannik Sinner considering everything and Rune and Tsitsipas is always a good match even though Rune leads the head-to-head 2-0. The first game there we thought wow, this is going to be a great match. And what disappointment for the crowd today. An injury and then the second alternate being injured as well. I mean, that’s not good for the crowd, we can hear the booing in the background. And I don’t blame them because if I payed a lot of money for a ticket, I would want more.”
- Support fearless journalism
- Read The Daily Express online, advert free
- Get super-fast page loading
Medvedev ‘feels sorry’ for Rublev and hopes to speak with him[REACTION]
Alcaraz has brutally honest assessment of recent struggles after another loss[QUOTES]
Raducanu told to copy tennis player just months older than her on injury return[EXPERT]
Meanwhile, in commentary, Petchey credited Fritz for taking to the court but wasn’t happy that the tournament’s back-up plan meant the fans had to watch him play below his best level because of his abdominal issue. “I want to say, big props to Taylor for getting out here. And I think that needs to be highlighted so well done for him to at least give this crowd an extra 40 minutes of tennis,” he said.
“But it has to be said, only in tennis would an injured player get subbed in by an injured player without any real forethought of what was going on. He’s clearly been injured in the training room all week.” The Prime Video commentator thought that organisers could have adapted knowing of Fritz’s injury, bringing in junior hitting partners or doubles alternates instead.
He added: “You’ve got juniors on site that are some of the best. The Italians love tennis, they’d love to see what’s the future. Imagine if they got to see Alcaraz play before he became a big star. ‘I was there when I watched whoever it was.’ And look what’s happening, and I feel really sorry for everyone in this situation. Nobody should be put in this situation.
“And I tell you the other thing, the one thing that should have been thought of is even get some of the doubles guys and protect Taylor even more here to play a doubles match so at least he doesn’t have to try and protect the whole singles court. And you can even sub people in, have a guy on the bench, have a bit of fun with it, get someone out of the crowd.”
While it was a difficult afternoon, the Italian fans with night session tickets should be in for a treat as home hope Jannik Sinner will face top seed Novak Djokovic. As for the rest of the Green Group, Hubert Hurkacz will now sub in for Tsitsipas in what would have been the Greek star’s final round-robin match on Thursday against Djokovic. As Tsitsipas technically went 0-2 for the week, Hurkacz cannot make it out of the group stage and into the semi-final.
Source: Read Full Article