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Tsonga pulls out of Indian Wells Masters due to sickle cell disease

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 16 Feb 2019
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the Indian Wells Masters
  • Tsonga recently revealed he suffers from sickle cell disease
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the Indian Wells Masters due to sickle cell disease.

Former world no. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has pulled out of the upcoming Indian Wells Masters, citing sickle cell disease, which he recently revealed he suffers from.

Tsonga revealed he suffers from what is known in the UK as sickle cell disease, which is particularly common in those with an African or Caribbean family background. Tsonga's father Didier is Congolese.

Tsonga won the seventeenth ATP Tour title of his career in Montpellier last week (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT / AFP) 
People with sickle cell disease produce unusually shaped red blood cells which can be problematic, not living as long as 'normal' red blood cells or getting in blood vessels.

Tsonga first revealed he was suffering from sickle cell disease in an interview with L'Equipe before the Australian Open, and gave further details in an interview with Eurosport posted today.

In the interview, which is in French, Tsonga reveals that he was diagnosed with sickle cell disease a few years ago and explained that the condition affects his blood circulation, which can be a particular problem when flying due to altitude. 

'When I get off the plane, I'm not the same anymore and I need three, four, five days to recover my physical abilities, I feel a bit tired, as if I have some kind of flu,' Tsonga told Eurosport.

As a consequence, the French player needs to ensure he can build in 3-5 days to his schedule to recover before resuming training or competing after a flight, and won't have time to do so before Indian Wells. 

'This problem has prevented me from going on and being even more regular on the tournaments, I [have only known about] it for a few years,' Tsonga said.

'Today, it allows me to regulate a little better and to make choices like for Indian Wells where it will be too short for me. I will go and do the other tournaments where I'm sure to be good, like that, I avoid injury.'

Runner-up at the Australian Open in 2008, Tsonga went on to make five Grand Slam semifinals in subsequent years, including back-to-back Wimbledon semifinal appearances in 2011-12. He is also one of a handful of active players outside the 'Big Four' to have won Masters 1000 Series titles, triumphing in Paris in 2008 and Toronto in 2014.

The 33-year-old Tsonga is trying to rebuild his ranking after undergoing knee surgery in 2018, a season in which he played only 12 matches and saw his ranking drop to world no. 259. 

So far in 2019 the French player has enjoyed strong results, compiling an 11-3 win-loss record. He won the seventeenth title of his career at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, beating compatriot Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the final, and was a semifinalist at the Brisbane International in January. 

Tsonga reached the quarterfinals of the 500-level ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam this week, losing to Daniil Medvedev, and has a wildcard into next week's Open 13 in Marseille where he faces Andrey Rublev in the first round. 

He is one of a number of top tennis players who have revealed they suffer from long-term health conditions. Venus Williams revealed in 2011 that she suffers from an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's Syndrome. Caroline Wozniacki announced in October 2018 that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

The Indian Wells Masters begins on 7 March and runs until Sunday 17 March. Defending champion Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev are among the top stars expected to headline the draw. Read more about the BNP Paribas Open and get the latest Indian Wells Masters 2019 news.

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Tsonga pulls out of Indian Wells Masters due to sickle cell disease

Montpellier champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cited his recently-revealed sickle cell disease as the reason for withdrawing from the Indian Wells Masters, saying his condition means that he needs extra time to recover after flights

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