Irina Begu's experience at Friday's Italian Open highlights the unusual stuff happening in Rome

Begu had to be confused by all of the twists and turns to her Friday schedule
Julian Finney/GettyImages

The 2024 Italian Open has been unusual on many fronts. Aside from the frightening issue Novak Djokovic faced and overcame while giving fan autographs, there have been many emotional outbursts, injuries, and retirements.

Romanian player Irina Camelia Begu's Friday at the Italian Open epitomized this. She was set to face defending champion Elena Rybakina in her opening round, but Rybakina withdrew from the tournament due to illness.

Begu was then slated to play lucky loser Oceane Dodin. The two did not even get through the first set before Dodin unfortunately had to retire from the match. That is one weird day at the office.

Why are there so many injuries and retirements?

Begu's experience shows that players cannot rely on the draw. They may or may not face that player so preparation for a match is very difficult.

There are many theories on what is happening with tennis players health. The rigorous schedule, difficult travel, and different balls and surfaces at each stop on the tour are the obvious answers.

Rafael Nadal recently commented on the situation. His theory is that as the tournaments and courts manipulate surfaces to play faster and make the game quicker, players will get hurt more frequently.

Nadal knows a lot about dealing with injuries since his life in the past year and a half has been focused on recovering from injuries. These injuries are not just afflicting the 30-something players; younger players like Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are feeling it too.

At some point, tennis has to acknowledge and research the frequency and type of player injuries and make adjustments to protect the players' health and longevity. Tournaments that have last-minute player retirements and withdrawals are disappointing for fans.

The ATP and WTA tours, in my opinion, are not doing enough to protect the players who are playing an individual sport week after week. Imagine an NFL team believing it was preparing for an opponent on Sunday only to be given a change of plans at the last possible minute.

Kudos to Begu for keeping her composure on a weird Friday of tennis for her, but let's hope this does not become the norm. Last week Felix Auger-Aliassime had similar odd events in Madrid so it has already happened more than it should have in the past couple of weeks.

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