World number one Angelique Kerber has been forced to withdraw from the Aegon Classic with a hamstring injury, meaning that there are now only seven top-20 players in the draw; there were 13 originally.
Kerber, who has struggled all season with poor form, won the title in Birmingham in 2015 and reached the quarterfinals last year, though has now suffered another blow in what has been an extremely disappointing campaign for her.
The German’s withdrawal means all of the top three players in the world have withdrawn this week, with Karolina Pliskova out with an elbow injury and Simona Halep out with a right ankle injury. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, defending champion Madison Keys and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova are amongst the other players to pull out of the tournament as well.
Kerber’s build-up to Wimbledon disrupted
The grass court season is usually an important one for Kerber, with the world number one usually thriving on the surface, though her injury is a huge blow for the German as she looks to regain her form and stay at the top of the rankings.
Kerber has Wimbledon finalist points to defend in July, and with Pliskova, Halep, and Elina Svitolina potentially in the running to take the top ranking off her, the German has an uphill task to try and defend her position in the rankings; it seems unlikely that with her withdraw she will have much confidence heading into the All England Club, though she will be in action at the Aegon International in Eastbourne next week.
The German’s withdrawal means that there are now seven top-20 players in the draw, which would be more impressive had there not been almost double that originally. Elina Svitolina is now the highest-ranked player in the draw, with Dominika Cibulkova and Johanna Konta the only other players in the top ten set to be in action. Kristina Mladenovic, former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and two-time Birmingham finalist Barbora Strycova round up the top-20 players in the draw.