stomach bug

The Way the Body Works: Players Recovering from Stomach Bug Expected to Play Better at the Sony Ericsson Open

The top tennis players in the world converge this week for the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open in pristine Key Biscayne, Florida. As the world’s premier tournament outside of the four grand slams, these next two weeks are sure to bring many storylines and possibly some surprise winners on both the ATP and WTA tours.

Last week during the BNP Paribas Open, the tournament saw several high-profile players pull out due to a sweeping 48-hour long stomach bug that effected players, coaches and fans alike. One theory not yet tested in tennis is just how successful these same players will be in the week after their bodies and immune systems have had to fight off a vicious virus. That being said, will the players affected by last week’s stomach bug perform better or worse than their healthier counterparts this week in Key Biscayne? The answer: much better, and here’s why.

When the body is forced to fight an infection or virus, the immune system is initially compromised. But because of immunological memory, the body becomes more alert and “remembers” the pathogen it previously killed. You may have experienced this added alertness after recovering from a cold – you are less likely to contract another cold or virus directly after your initial cold because your immune system is more alert to foreign pathogens.

As tennis players’ immune systems are no different than our own, it’s very likely that they will respond in the same manner: the players who pulled out last week from the BNP Paribas Open are less likely to contract any new virus this week, and thus more likely to have extra energy as their bodies should be fully recovered and their immune systems more alert.

The list of pull-outs is no short list, and includes Petra Kvitova, Francesca Schiavone, Gael Monfils, Vera Zvonareva, Vania King, Jurgen Melzer, Mike Bryan, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Andreas Seppi, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and Magdalena Rybarikova. Meanwhile, even Roger Federer stated he felt “under the weather” at the beginning of the tournament.

As the players range anywhere from number 1 on the ATP rankings to number 86 on the WTA rankings, it will be interesting to see the players’ progression through the draw. As some will undoubtedly fizzle out due to other factors, it’s no certain science, but I would bet that at least a few of these players will have better than expected results during the next two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Schiavone or Melzer bust through with excellent runs, and now you would know why. It’s all thanks to their immune system.

Murray, Wozniacki Suffer Early Losses in Indian Wells — The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Big Setback

Just when many of us thought that Andy Murray was poised to step it up and perhaps legitimize his place in what some have dubbed “The Big Four,” he goes and loses in his opening match at Indian Wells.  It’s no disrespect to his opponent, Garcia-Lopez, who played a solid match beginning to end.  But no matter how you slice it, this was an unacceptable defeat for Murray if he wants to take that next step and win a major.  It was also a surprising loss to say the least.  He entered Indian Wells in a much more positive mindset than in 2011, and he was certainly in better form.  The only positive for him is that he lost in the same round last year, so he’s not losing any points.  Then again, he missed the opportunity to gain some ground on Federer.  All eyes are sure to be on him in Miami, which marks the first real test of Lendl’s influence.  The Scot needs to bounce back immediately, or he’s apt to revert back to the Murray of old.

Hang the Rulebook

Michael Llodra’s actions and words spoke much louder in Indian Wells than anything coming off of his racquet, with the Frenchman garnering a $2500 fine for verbal abuse towards some fans and officials.  While it’s understandable that the governing bodies of tennis have a need to be uniform when doling out punishments, it’s still time to look at upping the fines for this type of behavior.  It’s one thing for a player to swear in general, and it’s another thing when they’re leveling their anger at someone else.  It also shouldn’t matter, as some have argued otherwise, whether the abuse is directed at an official on court or a fan.  Nobody should have to put up with that, and unfortunately, it seems to be becoming a more frequent occurrence.  Until the powers-at-be start handing down larger fines that will get more attention from the players, this type of behavior is likely to continue.

Freefall

She’ll still solidly be ranked inside the Top 10 come Monday, but a teary-eyed Caroline Wozniacki appears to be falling apart at the seams.  Her latest defeat comes at the hands of 2008 Roland Garros Champion Ana Ivanovic.  An in-form Ivanovic has more than enough game to defeat the Dane, but the drubbing she handed her fellow former No. 1 was still surprising.  It’s as though Wozniacki is unsure of what to do out there, and if she hasn’t figured it out already, that defense that took her No. 1 isn’t going to cut it anymore.  The game is quickly passing her by, and she should take a page out of her friend Aggie Radwanska’s book by biting the bullet and letting her dad go in favor of a new coach.  If she doesn’t do something soon, her ranking will only continue to slide.

Resurgence

It’s taken a few years, but Ana Ivanovic may be truly on her way to returning to the upper echelons of the game.  After dismissing Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, the Serb turned around and did the same thing to No. 7 seed Marion Bartoli.  Ivanovic showed signs of returning to her top form at last year’s US Open, and she’s backing it up nicely here at Indian Wells.  It’s difficult to imagine her getting back to the very top, but there’s no reason to think she can’t get back into the Top 10, or even Top 5, and earn a few more Grand Slam singles titles along the way.

The Invisible Opponent

It’s amazing that the BNP Paribas Open has been as enthralling as it has been, given that it has unfortunately been hit with a rash of withdrawals.  The cause of the pullouts is a nasty virus that has attacked the men and women in equal measure, making itself felt in more ways than one.  Fortunately, we’ve all continued to be treated to some world-class tennis, and fingers crossed that the virus hasn’t traveled with any of the sick players as they make their way to Miami for the second Masters 1000 event of the year.  With a few more of the sport’s top stars signed up to compete, Key Biscayne is likely to be as exciting, if not more so, than Indian Wells.