Big blow for Hong Kong Tennis Open as top seed Svitolina withdraws injured minutes before second round match
Top ranked player at Victoria Park this week is forced to pull out with a leg injury
Organisers of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open would have been forgiven for thinking they had put their withdrawal woes finally behind them when the action got under way at Victoria Park this week, but there was one more sting in the tail on Thursday when top seed Elina Svitolina pulled out of the tournament citing a leg injury.
The Ukrainian did appear to be struggling physically during her hard-fought first round win over Zarina Diyas on Tuesday and later admitted she was carrying an injury but that she had never thought about pulling out of the US$500,000 WTA event.
“When I went for wide shots and stretched it, it hurt,” Svitolina said after her first round match. “I’m gonna have a scan and see how it is ahead of [the WTA Finals in] Singapore.”
However, shortly before her second round match against Nicole Gibbs, organisers announced the 23-year-old had been forced to withdraw.
It is a blow for the organisers after losing another top seed and Hong Kong crowd favourite, Venus Williams, at just the second stage on Wednesday evening.
Svitolina herself had stepped in as an eleventh hour replacement for another big name casualty when US Open champion Sloane Stephens withdrew in the week before the tournament.
France’s Kristina Mladenovic and the UK’s Johanna Konta also pulled out in the days leading up to the event.
Last year’s winner, Caroline Wozniacki, is in action after 7pm on centre court tonight, and all eyes will be on the world number six, the top ranked player left in the tournament, as she looks for a second WTA title this season.