World number one Simona Halep had to withdraw from her first round match at the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday due to a back injury.
The Romanian had suffered a herniated disc injury while featuring in the Wuhan Open last month during her second round loss there. This was followed by her withdrawal at the Shanghai Open in her opening round match.
In a tweet, Halep conceded her back hadn’t still recovered enough to allow her to play without pain and her decision was to ensure taking any risks.
“I really wanted to play here in Moscow, but unfortunately my back is still causing me pain and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.”
This will allow Valentini Grammatikopoulou, a Greek lucky loser will join the main draw in place of Halep and face Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her opener.
Interestingly, she also said if she was unable to play in Moscow, she would find it tough to appear in the WTA Finals that kick-starts next week. The world number one will retain her ranking at the year-end too despite her withdrawals in Shanghai and here in Moscow but a non-appearance at the WTA Finals would mean she misses another chance of winning that title.
Halep had made it to the final of the WTA Finals in 2014, her only appearance in the title-decider. This was also the first year she had gone on to win a Grand Slam title, triumphing at the French Open earlier this season.
As things stand, along with Halep, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens have already qualified for the WTA Finals.
In some of the other first round matches in Moscow, three of the four seeds in action made it through to the next round. Daria Kasatkina, Anett Kontaveit and Anastasija Sevastova entered round two with contrasting wins while Elise Mertens was the only seeded player who was knocked out, losing in straight sets to Johanna Konta.