Tennis has been played since 1873, giving the sport almost 150 years to debate the identity of its greatest all-time player.
Alex de Minaur couldn’t get out of bed without suffering sharp abdominal pain this week, but the the top-ranked local hope was still determined to play in the Australian Open.
Calmer heads prevailed, however, leading the gutted 20-year-old to confirm on Thursday that he would miss the season-opening grand slam at Melbourne Park.
De Minaur withdrew on Monday from the Adelaide International after he suffered an abdominal tear while playing five matches in an intense ATP Cup schedule.
He has undergone daily treatment in a bid to play before accepting that he will need at least four weeks to recover properly.
“It’s not great, I’m not going to lie … it’s pretty devastating to miss out on my home slam,” de Minaur told reporters.
“I wanted to go out there and play, even though I’ve got a 4cm grade-two tear.
“It’s not a joke – it’s something really serious.
“… Pretty much everyone around me told me that I shouldn’t play and I was still planning on going out there and, if need be, serving underarm or at 120km/h or do whatever I can.
“I just did not want to miss playing here.
“But the long-term risks if it got worse (were too great), so it was the smart decision and the right decision.”
The injury is a new one, but is the third abdominal tear he’s suffered at the start of a season.
The world No.21 said he and his team would analyse his calendar and make alterations if required.
He revealed he first felt discomfort in the second of his five matches at the ATP Cup – a three-set win over Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
He didn’t think much of it right up to his last match when he pushed world No.1 Rafael Nadal to three sets, but scans in Adelaide this week revealed the bad news.
Even so, de Minaur doesn’t regret his role in Australia’s stirring run to the ATP Cup semi-finals.
“I certainly prepared for the amount of tennis I played,” he said.
“It’s just that my matches went for a very long time.
“It’s just playing for your country – it’s a different feeling.
“I’m going to do everything to leave it all out there and it looks like that, this time, it’s pushed me back for a bit.”