Belgian Kirsten Flipkens forfeited her fourth-round match at the Abu Dhabi Open to reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin after accidentally stepping on a tournament advertising board and appearing to turn her ankle.
The Belgian, currently at faraway 86th in the WTA singles rankings, grimaced in pain and pulled out of the tournament shortly after.
The moment came as a huge anti-climax for the Belgian as she was ahead in the game at the time, having taken the opening set 7-5 and trailing 4-5 in the second.
The freak injury also raised questions on the tournament officials and what appeared to be irresponsible conduct on their part in placing the advertising board where they did. It also put the women’s tennis body, the WTA, in the dock along with the tournament organizers for this oversight.
Kirsten Flipkens was leading Sofia Kenin by a set when she injured her ankle
With her back turned to the line officials, Flipkens had tracked back, and in trying to return an overhead smash from the American, stepped on the advertising board and fell on her ankle.
The pain was evident as she lay on the court feeling her left ankle. Before long, she realized she wouldn’t be able to continue any further and pulled out.
The injury raises serious questions on the Belgian’s participation in the Australian Open. However, it’s too early to determine the extent of her injury and how long she will be out for.
The moment came as a lucky break for Kenin, who was clearly struggling to impose herself on the game, at the time.
Why tournament organizers have a lot to answer for after Flipken’s freak injury pullout
The Belgian clearly had the better of the exchanges in the opening set and broke the American before winning it 7-5.
Kenin, who was in her element in the comfortable straight-set win over Chinese Yang Zhaoxuan in the round-of-64 clash on Thursday, was left searching for answers as Flipkens won the big points in the first set.
The American had just managed to gather herself and was in with a good chance of putting the game on level terms by winning the second set when the unfortunate moment arrived. The freak injury to the Belgian rudely cut short what was shaping up to be an absorbing game.
Asked if the such advertising blocks should be banned as they risk injuries, Kenin said, “I think maybe not to get rid of them but just to push them a little more back for safety. Obviously you couldn’t see this happening, the WTA are trying to keep us as safe as possible. This was just an unfortunate incident that happened.”
Be that as it may, the tournament officials might have a lot to answer for in the wake of this incident, considering the injury to Flipkens.