It’s been an injury and illness-filled start to 2016 for the top six women in tennis, and sadly, we are just a week from the start of the year’s first Grand Slam - Australian Open.
Defending Sydney International champion Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon winner, pulled out of the Sydney tournament on Sunday, the second week in a row she’s had to quit due to a stomach virus. She was joined a few hours later by Agnieszka Radwanska, the No. 2-seeded player in Sydney, who has a left leg injury.
Last week, the world’s four top-ranked women retired or withdrew from tournaments due to injuries on the left side of their bodies: No. 1 Serena Williams (Hopman Cup/knee), second-ranked Halep (Brisbane/ankle), No. 3 Garbine Muguruza (Brisbane/foot) and fourth-ranked Maria Sharapova (Brisbane/forearm).
Now No. 5 Radwanska and No. 6 Kvitova are also on the ever-growing injury list.
Kvitova retired during the first round of the Shenzhen Open in China last week. She was scheduled to play her first match in Sydney against Germany’s Sabine Lisicki on Monday.
“I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw ... but unfortunately I am still not feeling well,” the sixth-ranked Kvitova said in a statement.
Former No. 1 and now 16th-ranked Ana Ivanovic is healthy, but her new season is nonetheless off to a poor start. After losing in the first round last week in Auckland, she was granted a Sydney wild card.
Ivanovic, who won the French Open in 2008, months after losing the Australian Open final to Sharapova, was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in a first-round match Sunday.
“I was thinking, it’s not really (an) easy draw for first round,” Pliskova said. “I was really expecting a tough match. I’m just happy it went a little bit more my way.”
In other first-round matches, another Serbian former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic, beat American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-4; former French and U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Australian Tammi Patterson 6-2, 6-0; and Caroline Garcia, who represented France at the Hopman Cup last week, beat countrywoman Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (4), 6-4.