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In a physically demanding sport like tennis, it is hard for a player to perform at their best if they are affected by illnesses or injuries. In some cases, players are forced to retire simply because the body won’t let them continue.
One particular illness that has had a lasting effect on tennis players is mononucleosis (mono). After having a successful 2006, Mario Ancic became troubled with mono in early 2007, which saw him out of action for several months. The Croat saw his ranking drop from a career high No.9 in 2006 to No.85 by the end of 2007. Sadly the mono proved to be a recurring problem for Ancic, which forced him to announce his retirement in 2011.
Former World No.1 Roger Federer was also affected with this viral infection in 2008, which led to a dip in form on the tennis court. The Swiss maestro had his streak of 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals ended, lost his No.1 ranking to Nadal and didn’t win a single ATP World Tour Masters 1000 during the year.
A few days ago, Robin Soderling announced that he had to withdraw from the 2012 Australian Open after failing to recover from a bout of mono which has kept him out of action since July. The World No.13 had an excellent 2011, winning 4 titles and accumulated a 38-9 win-loss record.
It is unfortunate that players like Ancic, Federer and Soderling are affected by these illnesses, especially when they are coming off their best ever seasons. Hopefully this will send a message out to other players that mental and physical conditioning come before tennis.