(John Donegan/AP Photo)
When David retired yesterday during his second-round match at the Australian Open, it was obvious that he was in no condition to continue the match. And that during the hour he spent on court, he had gone from what could have still passed for very sluggish start to no longer being able to play.
Taking a medical timeout after the second set, David told the trainer that he was feeling dizzy, couldn't really see and react to the ball coming towards him as quickly as he wanted to and that tossing the ball up to serve, the court around him would start to spin. The trainer called one of the tournament doctors, David repeated his problems, adding that moving to the ball during rallies, he didn't feel sure his legs would continue to carry him.
After the timeout, David gave it another try and went back on court before finally retiring two and half games later. Having to accept that it was indeed impossible for him to go on. A sensible decision and certainly the right one to make but the question was - what was wrong with David? Was it fatigue or were there also physical problems of a different sort?
Here's what David told the press, afterwards.
I ran out of energy, feeling weak and dizzy. I don't have anything specific. I don't feel good. I talked about it with the doctor and I felt very tired. I tried to recover during those two days after the match against Hewitt but it wasn't enough. I felt weak and a little dizzy when serving.These or similar things David said to the various journalists of the various news sites and agencies. And while the wording may differ slightly, the message is always the same. He didn't suffer from any fever or infection. Instead, he felt completely drained and dizzy because he wasn't able to recover from the extreme exertion that the match against Hewitt had meant for him, physically as well as mentally. A level of exhaustion that simply could not be recovered in time for the match. Which explains why David felt "empty" on court, as well as his notion of not being in complete control of his own body.
I was empty.
The match against Hewitt was exceptional. With a lot of pressure and therefore costing a lot of engery. It's a general kind of fatigue that I'm suffering from. It has nothing to do with the hip injury that I had. I didn't feel any pain.
In short, this retirement was the price David ended up having to pay for his battle epic victory over Lleyton Hewitt.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer has commented on this, showing understanding for David's "tremendous effort" to beat Hewitt and the consequences a match like this can have (thanks, Noubar via Lucy).
He never had enough time to rest and adapt to everything.An important point. Because it was not only the sheer length that made the match against Hewitt so special - and eventually too much for David to recover from. Therefore I don't think that what happened should be seen as a sign that David is generally unable to play and then recover from five-set matches. I think that this was a very special match - with unfortunate consequences.
Obviously, the intensity you get from Lleyton and the crowd, and the pressure, all of that put together can lead to a result like this.
One more thing. I might be wrong but I think that this has only been David's third retirement during an ATP match in his career. An amazing number, given the many physical problems he has had over the years.
Still, in the past there were matches where I wished he would've retired. Where he also was clearly not able to compete but he stayed on court anyway, until the bitter end. You can call that heroic. I call it stupid and potentially dangerous. So for my part, I was relieved that he went for the more sensible option this time. And while I hope of course that something like this is not going to happen again (or at least not anytime soon), I also hope that if it does - David will do the sensible thing again.
(Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)