Breaking News
October 16, 2018 - Poor Outcomes for Hispanic Infants With Congenital Heart Dz
October 16, 2018 - Global study finds youngest in class more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD
October 16, 2018 - Researchers sequence two selfish genes in the fungus Neurospora intermedia
October 16, 2018 - Survey results highlight the need for better communication between patients and HCPs about bacterial vaginosis
October 16, 2018 - Researchers develop fibrin-targeting immunotherapy to protect against neurodegeneration
October 16, 2018 - Researchers create open access database on healthy immunity
October 16, 2018 - Rice University chemist wins big award to study small surfaces
October 16, 2018 - Study finds 43% drop in stroke rate
October 16, 2018 - Researchers identify basic relationships of cell cycle and cellular senescence in the placenta
October 16, 2018 - Obesity Doubles Odds for Colon Cancer in Younger Women
October 16, 2018 - Adults with ADHD not constrained in creativity
October 16, 2018 - Raising visibility for people and students with chronic illness and disability
October 16, 2018 - Allele awarded NIH grant to develop nanoantibody therapies for treatment of sepsis
October 16, 2018 - Only 59% of young adults undergoing surgery are fluid responsive
October 16, 2018 - Research points to potential new treatment for hearing loss
October 16, 2018 - MDI Biological Laboratory receives $1.2 million SEPA grant to promote data literacy
October 16, 2018 - Vast majority of dementia cases may arise from spontaneous genetic errors
October 16, 2018 - New project aims to deliver fast, effective treatment for autoimmune rheumatic diseases
October 16, 2018 - Study identifies molecular switch that controls fate of milk-producing breast cells
October 16, 2018 - Research shows diet has little influence on precursor to gout
October 16, 2018 - “Without Dr. Shumway doing his miracle work, three generations would not be here”: A Stanford heart transplant patient’s story
October 16, 2018 - Non-invasive brain stimulation sheds light on neurobiology underlying implicit bias
October 16, 2018 - Researchers demonstrate integrated technique to control production of cell therapeutics
October 16, 2018 - Breast tomosynthesis detects 34% more tumors than traditional mammography
October 16, 2018 - Rhode Island Hospital, Brown receive $800,000 grant to keep up fight against opioid epidemic
October 16, 2018 - UVA partners with health systems in AVIA network’s Medicaid Transformation Project
October 16, 2018 - Trevena Announces Oliceridine FDA Advisory Committee Meeting Outcome
October 16, 2018 - Study reveals early warning signs of heart problems in patients with newly diagnosed lupus
October 16, 2018 - Connecting the dots of Alzheimer’s disease
October 16, 2018 - New publication offers evidence-based content for global breast imaging medical community
October 16, 2018 - ‘EinsteinVision’ that improves hand-eye coordination of surgeons introduced at Harefield Hospital
October 16, 2018 - WRAIR clinical study evaluates safety and immunogenicity of Marburg vaccine
October 16, 2018 - Ketamine can be considered as alternative to opioids for short-term pain control in ED
October 16, 2018 - Endurance exercise training beneficially alters gut microbiota composition
October 15, 2018 - FDA Approves Yutiq (fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant) for Chronic Non-Infectious Posterior Segment Uveitis
October 15, 2018 - Birthing Options for Full-Term Pregnancy
October 15, 2018 - Stressed, toxic, zombie cells seen for first time in Alzheimer’s
October 15, 2018 - Concussion researchers study head motion in high school football hits | News Center
October 15, 2018 - Neuropsychiatric symptoms related to earliest stages of Alzheimer’s brain pathology
October 15, 2018 - Neck collar device may help protect the brain of female high school soccer players
October 15, 2018 - Research reveals how the inner ear processes speech
October 15, 2018 - Many parents still skeptical about safety and effectiveness of flu shot, survey finds
October 15, 2018 - Payer Policies May Discourage Non-Pharma Tx for Low Back Pain
October 15, 2018 - Exercise may delay cognitive decline in people with rare Alzheimer’s disease
October 15, 2018 - Researchers modify CRISPR to reorganize genome | News Center
October 15, 2018 - Innovative brain tumor operation set to tailor to patients’ needs
October 15, 2018 - Findings offer new insight into early changes that occur during AD pathology
October 15, 2018 - Neurons regulating reproductive hormone release have different activity in epileptic mice
October 15, 2018 - More parents are concerned about taking babies swimming in public pools
October 15, 2018 - Health Tip: Know the Risk Factors for Lower Back Pain
October 15, 2018 - Study shows cigarillo flavors enhanced by high-intensity sweeteners
October 15, 2018 - Study traces hospital-acquired bloodstream infections to patients’ own bodies | News Center
October 15, 2018 - Abnormal vision in childhood can affect development of brain areas responsible for attention
October 15, 2018 - Study highlights need for increased support for alcohol-related liver disease patients
October 15, 2018 - Color-changing contact lens could help doctors to monitor eye disease medications
October 15, 2018 - Tobacco heating products cause less staining to teeth than conventional cigarettes
October 15, 2018 - Young adults who are obese can expect to lose up to 10 years in life expectancy
October 15, 2018 - Scientists uncover how proteins meet on the cell membrane
October 15, 2018 - Affordable housing with supportive social services for senior citizens can reduce hospital use
October 15, 2018 - Schiller Easy Pulse Saves Lives
October 15, 2018 - The latest ECG device from Schiller
October 15, 2018 - Following a Tissue Sample
October 15, 2018 - Prisoners need drug and alcohol treatments but AA programs aren’t the answer
October 15, 2018 - Andrea Califano and Jordan Orange Elected to National Academy of Medicine
October 15, 2018 - The impending risk of African Swine Fever Virus
October 15, 2018 - Breastfeeding reduces the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in infant gut
October 15, 2018 - Researchers develop comprehensive molecular atlas of postnatal mouse heart development
October 15, 2018 - ObsEva SA Presents Clinical Data from Phase III IMPLANT 2 Trial of Nolasiban in IVF at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Annual Meeting
October 15, 2018 - Engineering teratoma-derived fibroblasts to enhance osteogenesis
October 15, 2018 - Lab study shows effectiveness of potential therapy for treatment-resistant hypothyroidism
October 15, 2018 - JCU study firms up association between diet and depression
October 15, 2018 - Researchers to study the use of CRISPR on human liver on-a-chip platform
October 15, 2018 - Sub-concussive impacts not associated with decline in neurocognitive function
October 15, 2018 - Researchers find potential treatment to halt premature labor and birth
October 15, 2018 - As U.S. suicides rates rise, Hispanics show relative immunity
October 15, 2018 - FDA Issues a Complete Response Letter to Acacia Pharma for Barhemsys
October 15, 2018 - Photoactive bacteria bait may help in fight against MRSA infections
October 15, 2018 - Increasing vigorous exercise reduces risk factors of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease in children
October 15, 2018 - First-of-its-kind study to test a personalized vaccine in cancer patient
October 15, 2018 - Extension trial assesses benefit of switching from flash monitoring to RT-CGM for hypoglycemia
The terrible toll tennis can take on top players who play too much

The terrible toll tennis can take on top players who play too much

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Median age when 10,000 games were reached among top ten players. The generation year marks the period when a player started playing professionally. Credit: Tennis Australia Game Insight Group

Much of the tennis world was looking to the 2018 Australian Open to be the story of comebacks.

Although some players have returned to start their season at the Australian Open, others have not. Five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray was the biggest name among the early withdrawals.

Rather than a time of comebacks, 2018 is shaping up to be a season of delayed starts and ongoing depletion at the top of the game. It’s a trend that signals a systemic problem in men’s tennis, which can’t be shrugged off as the misfortune of a few.

The 2017 US Open was struck by an epidemic of injuries. This resulted in an all-time low number of top 10 players in the draw, including the absences of then No. 1 Andy Murray and No. 4 Novak Djokovic.

Injury and game age

Injuries in sport are complex and can’t be attributed to any one cause. Yet the recent rise in injuries among the best men’s tennis players compels us to look for some widespread contributing factors.

In this regard, a closer look at the amount of competitive play that has become the norm among top players is telling. A men’s Grand Slam match can have as few as 18 games or as many as 183 games played, as in the John Isner-Nicolas Mahut Wimbledon marathon of 2010, or more.

So let’s focus on game age – the number of professional games played up to a certain age – to measure a player’s competitive age more precisely.

Breaking down the game age of ten players from the 1970s to the present clearly shows that today’s players are playing more at earlier ages than ever before.

In the time of Björn Borg-John McEnroe, for example, top players were usually 25 years or older before they had accumulated 10,000 games played. In the Murray-Djokovic era that age has dropped to 23.

This trend is even starker when we account for surface.

Hard courts, the surface considered most stressful on the body, make up 60% of the highest-level events in the men’s tennis season, and the disparity between accumulated games played on hard court across generations is even greater than all surfaces combined.

Today’s players are reaching 10,000 games on hard court nearly five years earlier than players from several decades ealier.

Although Murray’s all-surface game age is not dissimilar to other top players of his generation, he is one of the oldest players in terms of his hard court age.

Both Murray and Djokovic ended their 2017 season after the Wimbledon Championships in July due to injury. It is notable that both have some of the highest hard court game ages of any top player in their age group.

Game age comparisons of top 10 players who began their pro career in the early 2000s. Andy Murray is highlighted in orange. Credit: Tennis Australia Game Insight Group

Increasing physical intensity of play

Game age is the most detailed measure of competitive play that we have over long periods of tennis history.

But even an equal game age today isn’t necessarily equal to the same game age of past players. The main reason is that, over time, players are not only bigger and stronger, they are also playing a more gruelling style of tennis. Long points at the baseline are more common than ever before.

With modern tracking data, my research at the Game Insight Group at Tennis Australia shows that Murray, one of the biggest ralliers in the game, has the highest work rate per point over the past five years at the Australian Open of any top 30 player.

Murray is an outlier in this respect, but he is indicative of a broader trend of rising intensity of play in men’s tennis.

Curbing the demands

The nature of single-elimination tournaments in tennis creates a double-edged sword for the best in the game. Winning more requires playing more, yet playing more appears to increase the risk of a major injury.

With the amount of game play catching up with the top of the men’s game, up-and-coming players are no doubt worried about how they can both emulate those top players’ results while avoiding the same physical costs.

For many, Roger Federer, one of the most successful tennis players of all time who, at the age of 36 (ancient by tennis standards), is the favourite to win the Australian Open, is emerging as a singular example of how to have success and longevity at the highest levels of the sport.

Federer has had the longest career of the “Big 4” – the four men who have won most of the majors in recent years, the others being Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Murray – and has also been the most injury-free.

It’s not likely a coincidence that Federer, in preferring a more aggressive style of play, plays the least physically demanding style of tennis of the group.

He has also become much more selective in his schedule over time. Federer played fewer lower-level events and skipped the entire clay court season in 2017, reserving his game age for the biggest events where he is best positioned for a title run.

After losing to Murray in 2008, Federer made the following cautionary statement about Murray’s future:

“He is going to have to grind it very hard in the next few years if he is going to play this way.”

Federer couldn’t have imagined how prescient those words would be today, or that they would become a cautionary message for all top players to heed.

Changing playing style and cutting back schedules to avoid the grind aren’t easy options for current players, but players could have to consider these options if they want to ensure long and healthy careers.


Explore further:
Pokemon Go could help people who struggle socially

Provided by:
The Conversation

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles