Turbulence. Disruption. Stop-and-start movements. Energy and flow, followed quickly by pain and regression, then stasis. These are highly annoying things on plane flights and bus rides, and they are miserable parts of many professional athletes’ careers when injuries consistently creep into the picture.
Rafael Nadal is that rare and exceptional figure who can deal with injuries and pain by winning more Roland Garros titles and maintaining a high standard, but in case you haven’t noticed, most people aren’t Rafael Nadal. One can’t expect to establish a benchmark for resilience at such an elevated level.
A more representative example of a career thwarted by injuries is the one belonging to David Goffin, who lost in the preliminary rounds of the Open de Sud France in Montpellier to Filip Krajinovic on Wednesday.
Goffin was a contender at Roland Garros in 2017… and then got injured by the tarp which was ridiculously, appallingly, placed in the back of the court instead of on the side. He was trying to make his way back to the top tier of the sport in February of last year in Rotterdam… and then got hit in the eye with a ball in his match against Grigor Dimitrov. Another disruption. Goffin then had one of his very best days as a pro on Friday, August 17, 2018, in Cincinnati. He beat Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro, two men who had reached major finals, in the same day. The next day, in the Cincinnati semifinals against Roger Federer, Goffin had to retire due to injury in the second set.
The stop-and-start pattern injuries impose upon athletes has suffocated Goffin, and that’s why a struggling player is bothering to play Montpellier. Had Goffin been ranked inside the top 10 — displaying the form of an upper-tier player — he might not have felt the need to play this ATP 250, but since he is No. 21 and can use both match play and ranking points, he played this week. The man who defeated him, Krajinovic, knows what it is like to be thrown off track by injuries as well. Serbian journalist Sasa Ozmo predicted a big 2019 for Krajinovic on this week’s Tennis With An Accent Podcast at Radio Influence.
Stop and start. Stop and start. David Goffin will require more time to get his engines running in 2019. Hopefully, if he restarts the machinery, an injury won’t get in the way for once.