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Tripped by a tarp: French Open player stops with bad ankle

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PARIS — David Goffin’s French Open ended when he got hurt by tripping on a tarp during a point.

The Grand Slam tournament’s 10th-seeded man stopped playing his third-round match and was taken to the hospital after injuring his right ankle in the first set, when he fell while chasing a ball way behind the baseline at Court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday. Goffin’s right foot got stuck under the cover used to protect the court overnight or in case of heavy rain.

“He had an MRI, and the news is reassuring: There is no tearing of the ligaments and no bone that’s been broken, either,” said Goffin’s coach, Thierry van Cleemput.

“For the time being, we’re optimistic,” he said, adding that Goffin will stay in Paris for a couple of days of treatment before heading home to Belgium.

Goffin was a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros last season.

Five years ago, at age 21, he became the first “lucky loser” – someone who fails to make it out of qualifying rounds but gets into the main draw because of another player’s withdrawal – to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament since 1995.

On Friday, Goffin was serving for the opening set while ahead 5-4 against Horacio Zeballos of Argentina. After wasting three set points, Goffin was facing a break point when the players engaged in a lengthy baseline exchange. On the 14th stroke, Goffin raced to his left to reach a deep shot and, just as he flicked a backhand lob, his momentum carried his sliding right foot into the edge of the tarp.

Goffin reached out with his left hand to try to brace himself against a wall but crumpled to the ground, wincing and clutching at his ankle. Zeballos, meanwhile, was running to track down the ball with his back to the court and did not see what happened. Zeballos’ shot landed out, so Goffin actually won the point.

Zeballos put his hands on his head when he saw that Goffin remained down. Zeballos walked over, bringing a towel for Goffin to rest his head on while laying on his back. Two people helped Goffin make his way toward the locker room for a medical timeout – spectators rose and applauded – and, after a few minutes, it was announced that the match would not continue.

“I hope he recovers quickly,” said Zeballos, who packed up Goffin’s racket bag and carried it off the court for him. “He’s a great guy. Very calm. Never argues with anyone. Always very respectful.”

Until this week, the 65th-ranked Zeballos hadn’t won a match at the French Open since 2013. He hadn’t made it past the second round at any Grand Slam tournament in 17 previous appearances.

“I don’t know what to feel,” Zeballos said. “One part (of me is) a little happy, because it’s my best tournament. But also, I’m sad for him.”

Van Cleemput said tournament organizers will need to consider whether they can do anything to make the court safer.

“There will be consequences,” he said.

Asked about the tarps at the back of the court, Zeballos said: “Yeah, of course, it’s pretty dangerous.”

The tarp did not comment.

 

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”

Kuznetsova out of Australian Open after left wrist surgery

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.

Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.

Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.