FUZZED: And Now, Miami

The tense little break after IW is over; most players leave each tournament licking their wounds, hoping to do better the next time. Get on plane, on to the next tournament! You know the odd feeling of waking up not knowing where you are? It happens more when you travel constantly. Jet lag takes a toll; your body takes about 1 day per hour of time change to adjust, which means when you fly from the US to Europe, it takes maybe at least 5 days to get with it. Travel can cause significant changes in circadian rhythm. The human body likes a regular, predictable routine. Tennis players disrupt their rhythms all the time; if they fly through multiple time zones without allowing for enough time to adjust, they’re automatically at a disadvantage.

Naturally it’s always a relief to get through the initial rounds of a touranment. A loss or a difficult win right off the bat can’t always be blamed on jet lag, of course. There are tour veterans who seem to struggle too often these days, no matter where they’re playing. Today Marat, Amelie, Paul-Henri, Kuzy, Dementieva, Agnes Szavay, and Tursunov had to go 3. Not a good sign. Hewitt went down in easy straights to Simon and Hantuchova handed it to Chakvetadze.

Marat says this will be his last year on tour while Kim Clijsters has announced her plans to come back; another player who left and couldn’t stay away. So should we just assume players who leave – especially young ones – will want to come back, sooner or later? Very few pro athletes are ready to face the world when they’re no longer employed at what they’ve been doing most of their lives. They don’t really know anything else, may not even have a high school diploma. Sometimes we see them trying to do other things – like appearing in a fashion show put on by a clothing sponsor. It’s new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable. They come stiffly down the runway – and only part of the way, turn around and escape. It’s a runway, not a tennis court, so they don’t know what to do. So what are they supposed to do for 60 or more years? After the constant travel and the strict daily regimen governing their tennis careers, they suddenly have nothing but time. If they’re big stars, they may even start missing the pressers and the paparazzi. Maybe even Marat.

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