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Tennis champions suffer from jet lag at Open

Published on August 26, 2008

26 August 2008

NEW YORK — The rings of the Olympics are not the only ones in common for Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and the Williams sisters.

Chances are those tennis champions also share dark circles under their eyes, courtesy of the just completed Beijing Games and cross-continent flying.

Fresh off a gold medal in men’s singles at the Olympics, Nadal began his quest for his first US Open title on Monday as the newly minted No 1 player in the world.

"It’s important, jet lag," this year’s French Open and Wimbledon champion said Monday after an unexpectedly tight 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Bjorn Phau. "The rest is fine. The problem is to play Toronto, Cincinnati, Beijing and come back here. So in two weeks, two times, 12 hours’ jet lag. Before, after Wimbledon, I only had six or seven days to recover.

"But at the same time, I must be very happy how I did this year anyway. If I lose tomorrow – hopefully not – I am happy about how I played this year. I am just trying to continue playing like this in this tournament."

If he does, maybe he can solve Federer on a hardcourt the way he finally figured out his rival on Wimbledon grass in July. Nadal is seeking his third straight Grand Slam title, though he’s never gotten past the US Open quarterfinals.

Federer flamed out in singles in Beijing, but captured gold for Switzerland in doubles before heading to New York to try to defend his US Open title for a fourth straight year.

There is no time to sleep at all, let alone on the hot Nadal, who just ended Federer’s reign as the world’s top player after an incredible 237 weeks.

The extensive travel and time zone jumping has been tough, but Federer has been gearing up for it. The Olympic tournament ended last Sunday, giving the finalists a week to get to New York and become acclimated with the 12-hour time difference.

Of the 64 men who played singles in Beijing, 51 are also in the US Open field. Likewise, 55 women are doing the double that comes along every four years.

"I’m just going to try to recover from a whole lot of travelling we’ve had," said Federer, a 12-time Grand Slam champion. "You do a lot of prevention, you know, stretching, massage and a lot of sleep, eat healthy kind of thing."

[AP / Expatica]