Tennis Prose



How Fake Injuries Effect Opponents

By Scoop Malinowski

Faking or exaggerating injuries is an artful weapon in tennis. The injection of the seemingly minute detail of a minor injury into a tennis match can alter the chemistry, rhythm and emotional balance of the competition.

There are countless examples of major matches changing course after a losing player has declared an injury (real or fake or exaggerated). A very memorable example was the Australian Open final where Simona Halep lead Caroline Wozniacki 4-3 in the third set. Wozniacki stopped the match and took an injury time out and when the match resumed she won the last three games and her one and only Grand Slam singles title.

Today Rafael Nadal is a popular figure because of his record breaking 22 Grand Slam titles but also all the numerous injuries he constantly talks about in the media. Which is a strange practice because in all other major sports, the athletes and their teams try to conceal injuries so as to not give the opponent any psychological advantage or an area to exploit and further injure.

When an athlete reveals or openly promotes an injury it can actually have a debilitating effect on the opponent who suddenly may feel a fraction of guilt or shame or sorryness that he has gained an unfair physical advantage. And this emotion will actually make the uninjured player lose a fraction of intensity and killer instinct, which the supposedly injured player quickly and mindfully takes advantage of.

The first time I experienced this form of tennis trickery was in Sarasota, FL in a league match against a wiley old veteran. I was leading 3-love in the third set when I noticed the opponent hanging over the fence on the changeover, as if he was feeling exhausted and sick. Guess what happened? He won four straight games! Because I lost a fraction of intensity and killer instinct because seeing him looking so ill made me believe the match was over and I didn’t have to play hard anymore. But I recovered and got angry and then won the last three games from 3-4 down to win the match.

Just this year I play some with the no. 3 70 year old player in the nation. He constantly is telling everyone he’s injured with a bad back but with that bad back he’s played almost two dozen tournaments and won many of them! He also trains with very strong 4.5 and 5.0 players in their 30s and 40s at full speed and full intensity. With his “bad back” he’s competitive with this high level of opponent. This week with his “bad back” he’s entered TWO divisions in the NJ State Championships and reached the finals of both! And he may win both with his “bad back.”

Boris Becker used a fake ankle injury to stop the Wimbledon match vs. Tim Mayotte when he was defending champion. Becker even retired from the match but then changed his mind and the chair umpire actually allowed this reversal. When the match resumed after the long delay, guess who won? Becker! Tim Mayotte’s sister Ellie told me this story.

So when you see Rafael Nadal walking around on crutches or limping or announcing all his injuries in press conference interviews, while at the same time continuing to win high stakes matches and major tournaments, don’t be surprised if it’s all a highly sophisticated, media manipulation mind game which is succeeding at the expense of a lot of ATP players.



  • catherine · June 17, 2022 at 3:45 am

    Not exactly a ‘fake’ injury, it’s real enough but does bring up the subject of tactical handling. Raducanu has withdrawn from Eastbourne and is in doubt for Wimbledon. Her sidestrain isn’t responding to treatment. My view, for what it’s worth, is that she give W’don a miss this year because the pressure will be immense and will push her adrenaline levels to the point of exacerbating her injury and we’ll be in Andreescu territory again.

    And a Scoop suggests, it won’t be fair to her opponents. They’ll know she’s fragile so they’ll either hold back and possibly lose or play normally and then get blamed for taking advantage. No win for anyone.

    Emma’s 19. She’s got plenty of time but as we know young people don’t see it that way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2022 at 8:39 am

    How could Raducanu possibly want to play wimbledon with all the media frenzy and emmamania 2 ready to explode which will be infinitely more chaotic than it was last year or anything Henmania ever was. If she even plays full credit for her. No one will hold back on Emma, just like no one ever held back on Anna Kournikova. Some may not see the comparison but Emma is at a level Anna, in all her efforts, never could quite reach.

  • catherine · June 18, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Another expected withdrawal from W’don – Naomi. Chronic achilles problem, a known career terminator. Who knows ?

    Is Wim Fisette looking around for a new client ? If Wim’s available for employment elsewhere then one name springs to mind.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2022 at 8:46 am

    Not buying Osaka’s reason Catherine, she has a full week to heal rehab and get ready for Wimbledon. Might be another reason.

  • catherine · June 19, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Far too may retirements in WTA – Bencic retires in Berlin final, Zhang retires in B’ham. Crowd shortchanged and I bet these players are fit for W’don.

    Why not just cancel pre-Wimbledon events and have mass practice sessions instead ?

    Kerber’s tournament in Bad Homburg is stashed with exiled Russians.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    Remember all those retirements in Miami. Something is going on…

  • Sam · June 20, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    So when you see Rafael Nadal walking around on crutches . . . donโ€™t be surprised if itโ€™s all a highly sophisticated . . . game which is succeeding at the expense of a lot of ATP players.

    “Good sportsmanship” at its finest. ๐Ÿ‘

    Seems those three witches weren’t exactly whistling Dixie when they once said, “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” ๐Ÿ‘บ

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2022 at 7:30 am

    The fakery may run deep.

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