DelPo announced his withdrawal from 2013 Roland Garros. The virus that had led him to withdraw from the Portugal Open and Madrid Masters has also forced his withdrawal from Roland Garros, the second Slam of the year. DelPo made his comments to the press about his withdrawal (source):
I’m sad to miss such an important tournament. This is a tough blow b/c RG is one of the tournaments you always dream of winning.
Now I have to overcome this, recover fully and prepare to return to my 100% level in the next tournaments.
Although DelPo reportedly returned to training on Tuesday, his team judged his preparation insufficient for Roland Garros. Given how DelPo’s been afflicted by this virus for nearly a month, it’s understandable why his team would be cautious as to the timing of his return. DelPo seemed to have rushed his return to Rome earlier this month.
Reliable media sources cite DelPo’s inability to sufficiently train for Roland Garros (due to the long-term effects of the virus) as his reason for withdrawal from Roland Garros. Given how he’s returned to training this week, the hope is that he can recuperate his form in time for the grass season. No other additional news has been reported so far on the original virus that has been troubling DelPo. At this point, it’s still unknown whether the virus is simply a harsh strain of a particular virus or whether it’s actually a case of mono.
Speaking of mono, it’s important to know that players like Robin Soderling and Heather Watson, both of whom suffered from mono, have said that the worst thing to do is to rush a return to tour. Mono, like many other viruses, requires good old-fashioned rest and recuperation in order to fully recover. Whatever illness DelPo is suffering from right now, the priority is that he has enough time to recover for the long-term. Soderling has said before that he regretted his decision to play Wimbledon in 2011, as he’d been suffering from mono for a long time at that point (although he hadn’t yet known it was mono).
Given that information, it can be seen as a relief that DelPo decided beforehand not to rush his return to the tour. While the fact that he will skip a Grand Slam this year is certainly disconcerting, it seems like the correct level-headed decision for his long-term health.
No. 2-ranked Murray has already announced his withdrawal from Roland Garros this year, due to a back injury. No. 7-ranked DelPo has followed him out the door. This is a shame, given DelPo’s consistent performance on clay during his career. Given DelPo’s steady performance until IW this year, he might have been the best legitimate “dark horse” contender to shake up the Roland Garros draw. Alas, the virus has virtually wiped out all of his clay season this year.
DelPo and Muzz’s withdrawals mean that no. 9-ranked Gasquet and no. 10-ranked Tipsarevic are now top 8 seeds at Roland Garros. Tipsarevic just lost his opening round match to no. 101-ranked Guido Pella at Dusseldorf (the Serbian is also ranked a lowly no. 29 in the Race to London, far below the rest of the top 10).
Last year in 2012, DelPo won the Portugal Open, reached the SF at Madrid, R3 at Rome and the QF at Roland Garros (for a total of 1060 ranking points on clay — he went 16-5 on clay in five tournaments, including DC). This year, DelPo lost in R3 at Monte Carlo, skipped the Portugal Open and the Madrid Masters and then lost in R3 at Rome (for a total of 180 ranking points on clay — he went 2-2 on clay in two tournaments). It’s safe to say that the difference in his clay season can be attributed to the effects of the virus that struck him after Monte Carlo.
I will update as I hear more news from his camp regarding the status of his health and his recovery.
Bottom-line: DelPo will lose the 360 QF points he was defending from last year at Roland Garros. No. 8-ranked Tsonga has a slight chance of overtaking DelPo for the no. 7 position if the Frenchman reaches the SF at RG.
DelPo is currently no. 8 in the 2013 Race to London (he is ahead of Tsonga by 5 points). After Roland Garros, he will fall out of the top 8 in the Race to London.
Update (05.23.2013): DelPo sent a Facebook message to his supporters, where he thanked everyone for their support and promised to do his best to return to his best level.
A short timeline of DelPo’s virus: He had respiratory and digestive problems shortly after losing in Monte Carlo (on April 26). He made the decision not to defend his Portugal Open title. DelPo seemed to be on the mend, but he then experienced a relapse that involved bronchospasms (more respiratory trouble). This caused him to withdraw from the Madrid Masters (on May 3). Although he played in Rome, he lost early and returned home to consult a cardiologist, who would work with him on his recovery. Both the doctor and his team made the decision that his preparation and physical condition were insufficient for the demands of playing a Slam.