The year’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament is already taking a toll, even in a year when the temperature at the Australian Open has rarely spiked to levels that call for a Legionnaire’s cap.
You could see it as Gilles Simon walked gingerly around the grounds Sunday afternoon, a day after his potentially Pyrrhic victory over Gaël Monfils. You could see it as Angelique Kerber, the No. 5 women’s seed, lay flat on her stomach being treated for a back problem on a changeover during her 7-5, 6-4 loss to the Australian Open upset specialist Ekaterina Makarova.
You could see it as the Japanese star Kei Nishikori, his left leg wrapped tightly below the knee, struggled to get low for David Ferrer’s umpteenth ground stroke.
Two strong legs would seem a requirement to challenge the hard-running Ferrer, and though the first few games against Nishikori were hard-fought, Nishikori eventually lost his edge and his patience as Ferrer finished him off, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, to become the first man in the quarterfinals.