Dubai: The growing demands and the thirst to win are very quickly putting tennis injuries close to, if not on par, with other high-contact sports such as rugby and football.
Dr George John, sports medicine surgeon and tournament director at the 2010 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, said: "As the tournament doctor at some of the major sports in the UAE including the Rugby 7s or the Fifa World Clubs Championships it has been our experience to have some grievous injuries during rugby or football matches.
"But after these two weeks of tennis, especially after the first week involving the women, we can safely assume that tennis is also getting a lot of high-collision level injuries.
"This is a surprising trend to me considering that I have been taking care of the medical side at this tournament for the past four years now," he added.
Drifting through figures, Dr John related that the number and severity of the injuries at this year's tournament have increased.
The Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships was serviced by the Sportsfit team comprising six doctors, six nurses and as many physiotherapists during the past two weeks.
"Last year we had 18 injuries for the WTA tournament, and in comparison we had 26 in the first week this year. That's an increase of eight players," Dr. John stated.
"If you ask me to categorise this in figures it would mean a 30 per cent increase in stress reaction on the bones and soft tissues," he added.
One of the women players even had a fracture of the knee after an on-court incident during competition.
"The beauty for us is that we keep on learning. Just as much as the players alter and make changes in their game and the way it is played, we keep on learning as well," he said.
The reasons for these injuries, the doctor observed, are obvious. "The game, as you see, is getting tougher. No one is willing to go down without a fight. You always see a fight going on.
"I met about five of the players among the women who have changed their training schedules for the past one year.
"The obvious reason they have done this is to get more competitive. They find the training difficult for them sometimes, and most of the time they are already in a tournament with a persisting injury. The demand and the pressure on them is to win every match.
"I don't know how much the trainers push the players. But at the end of the day they all love the game and that is why they keep doing it week after week. However, at the end they've got to still deal with the injuries," Dr John stated.
"This has been an exciting tournament for us. We have learnt quite a lot talking to the trainers, coaches and the players themselves. It is really nice to see how training methods have changed or how they are implementing new methods of rehab. It's a learning curve for us too."