[Editor's note: Andujar reached the main draw of the Barcelona Open as a lucky loser and advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Bjorn Fratangelo—the same player he lost to in the final round of qualifying.]
Every top-of-the-line tennis player goes to work on a regular basis knowing he is at the mercy of his body, realizing that an injury can be even more burdensome than an adversary on the other side of the net performing out of his mind. These athletes are fragile individuals, susceptible to frequent difficulties, vulnerable each and every time they step on a court to a physical breakdown of sorts. In my view, tennis at its core is fundamentally a contact sport.
Ask Pablo Andujar. This enduring competitor is on the comeback trail at 32 after suffering through a trying couple of years that tested his fortitude and patience to the hilt. Here is what happened to the Spaniard. He had spent four consecutive years (2011-2014) ranked among the Top 50 in the world on the ATP tour. In July of 2015, he achieved a career-best status at No. 32. He finished that season at No. 64, but his physical woes had shortened that campaign.
In March of 2016, he endured his first elbow surgery. Later that year, in November, he needed a second surgery; by April of 2017, a third surgery was required for that ailing right elbow. Only a man of Andujar’s extraordinary character and resilience could have dealt so honorably with this string of hard luck experiences. He had no ATP ranking at all as of October 2017. Andujar’s wrist had led him into psychological places few players would want to go.
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