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By Matthew Cronin

LOS ANGELES, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A spiralling injury list on the women's tour has left the U.S. Open in danger of being robbed of many of its major players.

With the final grand slam of the year set to get underway on August 25, champion Serena Williams heads a casualty list that is threatening to leave the Open with a seriously depleted women's field.

Five of the WTA's top eight players and nine of its top 20 competitors have pulled out of tournaments during the past three weeks.

"I don't think I have ever seen it this bad," said former top-five player turned television pundit Pam Shriver.

The JP Morgan Classic in Los Angeles lost its top draw after world number one Williams had knee surgery last week.

Williams is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks and will not defend her U.S. Open title.

Having grown up just a few miles from the tournament's site, the American was counted on to sell tickets at the JP Morgan Classic.

But only 1,814 fans attended Saturday's semi-final between Lindsay Davenport and Japan's Ai Sugiyama in a new stadium that seats 8,000 people.

"In markets like Los Angles and New York, you really need stars to sell tickets," said Shriver.

"I'm really concerned about the U.S. Open because as an American, I like to see our players do well.

"But at this point, the U.S. Open is in danger of waiting to see which Belgian (Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin-Hardenne) will win the title."

Seventh-ranked Jennifer Capriati joined the casualty list during last week's Acura Classic with a pectoral (chest) strain and was forced to retire midway through her second-round match.

Davenport skipped last month's tournament in Stanford with a left foot injury.


DEMANDING SCHEDULE

Next week's Canadian Open in Toronto has also been hit with injuries.

Serena's older sister Venus has withdrawn because of an abdominal strain while Monica Seles, Chanda Rubin, Meghann Shaughnessy, Alexandra Stevenson, Patty Schnyder and Anna Pistolesi are the other members of the top 30 to drop out.

Venus has not played since losing the Wimbledon final to Serena in early July and her next scheduled tournament is the U.S. Open in New York.

Eighteen-times grand slam singles winner Martina Navratilova blamed the injuries on the players' demanding schedule.

"If you look at the number of tournaments people play now and average it out against the number of tournaments the top 10 played 10 years ago, they probably play five more tournaments a year now," said Navratilova, who was playing doubles in Los Angeles with Svetlana Kuznetsova.

"That's a lot of matches and time you're not taking care of your body or recovering from injuries.

"Serena and Venus have pulled out of more tournaments in one year than I did in my whole career.

"I don't think they play enough and the other top players play too much. The other top players play between 16 and 18 tournaments and that's too hard mentally and physically."


OVER TRAINING

Along with Seles, who has not played competitively since her first-round loss at the French Open in May, Russian pin-up Anna Kournikova has also been out of action for months.

A long-term back injury could also rule out Kournikova from the U.S. Open.

Among the 10 withdrawals from this week's JP Morgan Classic were defending champion Rubin (shoulder injury), former winner Seles (foot problems), Russia's Vera Zvonareva (elbow injury) and American teenager Ashley Harkleroad (elbow injury).

Capriati suspects over training has contributed to the spate of injuries.

"It's a long season and, with the grind of the tour, there's not much time to take a break, let alone recover" said Capriati.

"I don't feel like I can sit back and not try to play. Plus, the game is so much more powerful now and maybe some of the girls are over-training trying to get stronger."

Having suffered a plethora of injures over the last three years, former French Open champion Mary Pierce said: "I was over-training all the time.

"You have to learn that you can only do so much in practice. I probably hit three times as many balls than any other girl from age 10 to 18. Now I have no desire to do so."

Navratilova added: "The kids play too much on hard courts at an early age and their joints suffer.

"When the joints get messed up, the muscles follow. Most tennis injuries are related to joints because of the hard pounding. Tennis is a very hard sport on your body."
 

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:wavey: I completely agree with Martina saying the kids play too much on hardcourts. At a young age I played alot on concrete, plexi-pave etc...at 26 my knees are screwed...when you think about it....with everyone trying to get as much from their serve as they can...launching yourself into a court and landing on one leg (carrying all your'e body weight) can't be a good thing IMO :wavey:
 

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so does tennis prevent a child's joints from growing properly? i mean aren't sports suppose to keep you healthy? I play on hard courts all my life and I will also agree that it is very jarring on the body especially when u scurry around the court. I wish there were clay courts around here....
 

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Hingiswinsthis said:
so does tennis prevent a child's joints from growing properly? i mean aren't sports suppose to keep you healthy? I play on hard courts all my life and I will also agree that it is very jarring on the body especially when u scurry around the court. I wish there were clay courts around here....

Same here LOL.... :wavey: My first 2 years of playing were on bitchumin (courts made out of tar)....I did play a fair bit on en-tout-cart which was more forgiving on the joints. :wavey:
 

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maybe venus and serena should train more to get their bodies adjusted to the rigors of the tour because martina is right they dont play a lot of tournaments and still they get injured so maybe they should train more if they are not going to add a few more tournaments.

it must be a shock to the body to have a month or two off and then a week long competition.
 

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Really what should happen is a player should play about:

5 Hardcourt tournaments
5 Claycourt tournaments
4 Grasscourt tournaments
4 Carpet tournaments

... in a year. But does this happen? No, never! I think top players play like at least 8 or 9 hardcourt tournaments in year. There's your reason for injuries.
 

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They should introduce synthetic grass tournaments - synthetic grass is like carpet except it also includes a light layer of sand in it to slow the ball down and provide a higher bounce. It provides a very good bounce, medium pace and great cushioning for the body. I love it and it is the main surface that most clubs in Australia use for outdoor play. Plus when it rains it is very quick to dry and you can play on it again immediately if it is only light to medium rainfall.
 

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tennisvideos said:
They should introduce synthetic grass tournaments - synthetic grass is like carpet except it also includes a light layer of sand in it to slow the ball down and provide a higher bounce. It provides a very good bounce, medium pace and great cushioning for the body. I love it and it is the main surface that most clubs in Australia use for outdoor play. Plus when it rains it is very quick to dry and you can play on it again immediately if it is only light to medium rainfall.
:wavey: Great point....I hate playing on it though but yes definately cushions the joints... (don't those lines seem wide on it though LOL) I find them better when they have worn down a bit...having said that the balls do come across heavy on the arms...might be saving the legs though (maybe just my arms though LOL) :wavey:
 

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synthetic grass = atsroturf.

You'd be hard pushed to find a player who likes playing on it, as if you fall you havea fall you'll knwo all about it. One slip and you can losoe pretty much all the skin on your thigh or arm.

My local club had astroturf as the surface, it's horrible, and the courts often suffer coz they start to get bumps. To level tehm back out they need to be completely re-surfaced.
 

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hope jenny and Venus make it to the open - and whats Pmas problem with a belgium winning the USOPEN someone please shut her up!
 
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