Novak Djokovic has become the latest leading name to pull out of the Miami Open, citing an elbow problem.
After an uncannily similar announcement from Andy Murray 24 hours earlier – even down to the same injury – a denuded men’s draw will now list Stan Wawrinka as the top seed.
In fact, the two Swiss men who on Sunday evening were due to contest the final of Indian Wells will be the tournament’s strongest draw cards. Especially Roger Federer, whose evergreen performances at the age of 35 seem more and more incongruous in a sport that is wearing out its other idols.
I apologize to my fans and ppl who purchased tickets to watch me play live at @MiamiOpen. Sadly, I'm injured and won't be able to compete.— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) March 19, 2017
Serena Williams, who lives locally and usually drives to the event in her white Rolls Royce, has also withdrawn from Miami – which begins on Monday with qualifying matches - because of a knee problem.
These three big names are all expected to return during the clay-court season, but the law of averages suggests that at least one of them could be absent for a while longer.
British tennis fans will be hoping that Murray, at least, makes a swift recovery. Having already suffered a bout of shingles in the aftermath of the Australian Open, he has not enjoyed the healthiest of starts to his first season as world No 1.
And after reports that his December fitness block in Miami was more intense than ever, there must be a suspicion that over-training could be a factor.