More misery was heaped on the Swiss Olympic tennis team on Tuesday as the men’s singles World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka pulled out of Rio Olympics 2016 just three days ahead of the start of the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza. The 31-year-old, who reached the semi-finals of the Toronto Masters last week, has been diagnosed with ‘local overstress’ of his back which forced him to make the last-minute withdrawal.
It has been a tough few days for Switzerland with both Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic opting out. While the 17-time Grand Slam champion needs extensive rehabilitation of his knee and pulled the plug on the remainder of the 2016 season, Bencic still has not regained sharpness after a wrist injury.
The situation needed some major reshuffling of the Swiss team and they had to withdraw their names from the mixed doubles event where Federer and Martina Hingis were the favourites for the gold. On Saturday, the names of Hingis, Wawrinka and Timea Bacsinszky were officially announced as the players who will finally be making it to Rio.
But this latest unfortunate development has left the country bereft of any male tennis player at the Games. Given that Federer and Wawrinka clinched the doubles gold in 2008 before the former World No. 1 went on to add the men’s singles silver in London, it is indeed a major setback.
Wawrinka was eagerly looking forward to his singles participation at Rio and had even refused to burden himself with duty in doubles to be able to fully focus on one event. But increasing pain during the Toronto tournament made him go for a check-up with his doctor back home in Switzerland. Following MRI scans and analyses, local overstress was found out due to which he has been advised to immediately lessen his physical activity.
“I’m very sad,” Wawrinka said in a statement. “I was really excited about playing in Rio. After Beijing and London I was really looking forward to playing in my third Olympic games. I wish all the Swiss athletes the best of luck throughout the coming weeks.”
The two-time Grand Slam winner thus becomes the fifth top-10 player to have pulled out of the Games with Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem, Tomas Berdych and Federer being the others.