Worrying trend emerges after quarantine
Concerns about how tennis players' bodies would react to two weeks in quarantine appear to be well founded after a spate of stars were struck down by similar injuries.
Britain's best female hope Johanna Konta retired from her round one match against Kaja Juvan with an incredibly painful abdominal injury, while Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini also withdrew from their matches on Monday.
Berrettini didn't even make it onto the court for his clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, pulling out with an ab injury, while Ruud called it quits two sets into his encounter with Andrey Rublev - also citing an abdominal issue.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was remaining coy on his physical woes after wins over Taylor Fritz and Milos Raonic, but he too is battling injured abs.
Seventy-two players were forced to spend 14 days in a hotel room after positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed on three separate charter flights to Melbourne for the Australian Open, sparking fears about how they could possibly compete at an elite level without being able to condition themselves properly.
Others not included in that group also isolated, but were allowed outside for five hours a day to train.
Amazingly, Djokovic, Konta and Berrettini were all part of the group permitted to train during lockdown, yet have still suffered injuries.
"Unfortunately due to a lower left abdominal strain I had to retire from my match today at the
@australianopen," Ruud wrote on social media on Monday.
"It was a tough decision to make on court but I believe it was the right decision in the long run. I hate the feeling of having to 'give up' but I couldn't continue playing with pain in every serve I hit.
"I will rest up a bit and try to recover 100 per cent as quickly as possible. I will update you on my abdominal strain in the coming days and weeks and hopefully you'll see me back on the court again pretty soon."
Konta said she was in a "state of shock" and described it as "almost like having an out-of-body experience" when her injury flared up out of nowhere, while Berrettini couldn't explain the sudden appearance of his abdominal issue.
"Unfortunately due to the injury I sustained in my last match against Karen (Khachanov), I am physically unable to compete against Stefanos and sadly have withdrawn from the Australian Open," he wrote on Instagram.
"This was far from an easy decision for me but after having a scan and listening to the medical experts and my team, it was the only decision. I will work hard to recover and will be back soon."
Djokovic wasn't willing to provide many details on his problem but said he needed painkillers and if this had not been a grand slam, he would have retired, such were his pain levels.
Whether the Serbian's abs hold up for long enough to win a ninth Australian Open title remains to be seen.
Originally published as Worrying trend emerges after quarantine