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Tennis prospect Katie Swan grateful for help from physio Mark Bender

The former Australian Open girls’ singles finalist is hoping her injury problems are behind her.

TENNIS 20/03/17 10:26
Tennis prospect Katie Swan grateful for help from physio Mark Bender

Katie Swan’s hugely promising tennis career is back on track thanks to a little help from Andy Murray’s ‘back whisperer’.

Murray turned to Mark Bender in 2013 when he was contemplating back surgery and the physio remains a key member of his team.

Bender’s latest tennis client is 17-year-old Swan, whose path to the top has been derailed by a year of injury problems.

After overcoming an abdominal issue and then a shin injury that saw her retire from the junior tournament at Wimbledon in tears last summer, Swan was dogged by six months of back spasms.

But Bender appears to have fixed the problem and Swan showed what she is capable of when injury free by winning back-to-back titles in Egypt earlier this month, dropping just two sets in 10 matches.

Swan told Press Association Sport: “He helped me so much. I saw him a few times. When I went to Egypt I felt so good. It was amazing, it made me feel so much more confident knowing I didn’t have anything wrong with me. I could focus on my tennis and every match that I felt good afterwards made it even better for the next one.

Katie Swan has suffered a string of injuries (Jon Buckle/Empics)
Katie Swan has suffered a string of injuries (Jon Buckle/Empics)

“I made it through 10 matches without any problems and I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.”

Swan has long been marked out as a star in the making and she reached the final of the Australian Open girls’ singles aged only 15. Comparisons with Laura Robson are inevitable but Swan is confident that, as long as she dedicates herself as hard off court as on it, there is no reason she cannot stay injury free.

While the titles in Egypt were a start – and an early boon to her new coaching relationship with Tim Henman’s former mentor David Felgate – her next test will show how her current level compares to the elite of women’s tennis.

Swan has been given a wild card into qualifying for the Miami Open and will play her first match later on Monday. Last year she claimed her best victory so far in the first round of qualifying, beating American Lauren Davis, who is now ranked 38th in the world.

“I wasn’t going to be in Miami,” said the teenager. “We decided I wasn’t going to ask for a wild card this year because I didn’t feel ready and then after going to Egypt for two weeks, they offered me the wild card for qualifying again and it was so exciting to know I’d almost earned myself a place. I feel good so hopefully I can put in a good performance.”

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