Injury brings improving Molik to standstill
Alicia Molik had always planned to take a short break after her career-best year on the WTA circuit, but must now rest earlier and for longer than she had planned. Molik's latest foot injury may keep her off the court for up to six weeks, thereby disrupting the start of her summer circuit preparation.
The Australian No. 1 returned to her Melbourne base on Tuesday, having retired hurt from her Linz quarter-final last week with a left plantar fascia injury that forced her withdrawal from year-end tournaments in Quebec City and Pattaya. Molik's next commitment is the Hopman Cup, where she will partner Lleyton Hewitt from January 4 before tackling the Sydney International and Australian Open.
Coincidentally, it was at Melbourne Park last year that the muscle in the arch of Molik's right foot gave way in an almost identical manner, ending her tournament and sidelining the recently crowned Hobart title-holder for another month.
Nine months later, it is a case of similar injury; different limb.
"She's done the same thing; she's torn a fascia, so she's seeing the same doctor that looked after her last time," said Molik's agent Peter Smylie. "It was just a matter of rest, and a lot of treatment, and we're hoping it's the same this time."
Smylie said the only positive for Molik - who has reached a career-high No. 34, and was hoping to end the year inside the top 30 - was the fact that her previous comeback was marked by an outstanding run at Key Biscayne, where she upset Barbara Schett, Elena Likhovtseva and Daniela Hantuchova, and then reached successive finals in Sarasota and Budapest.
"She was looking forward to having a couple of weeks off at the end of the season anyway because she'd played a lot of tennis in the second part of the year," Smylie said.
"This is not the kind of break she wanted, and the two tournaments she's missing out on would have helped her ranking, but she's probably only going to be a couple of weeks behind.
"Hopefully it won't be any worse than that," he said.
Meantime, any threat of a player boycott of January's Australian Open appears to have dissipated, with ATP chief executive Mark Miles claiming he had never threatened action on the eve of Wimbledon over the ATP's demands for a greater share of the grand slam profits.
Miles committed his members to the January grand slam, at which the total prizemoney pool will rise by 4 per cent to $19 million, with the singles champions each collecting $1.2 million.