World number one and recently-crowned French Open champion Simona Halep has announced her unfortunate withdrawal from the Nature Valley International tournament held in Eastbourne next week, citing an Achilles tendon injury as the official reason in a statement posted on Twitter earlier on.
The Romanian reached the quarterfinals last year, having been just a win away from grabbing the number one ranking and fell to eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki despite having a commanding 7-5, 3-0 lead in a heartbreaking loss. Nonetheless, it was a terrific grass-court season for Halep, who reached the last eight in both Eastbourne and ultimately, Wimbledon.
Achilles tendon pain causing problems for Halep
According to Halep’s statement, she has been “experiencing Achilles tendon pain and inflammation during the French Open and it has yet to fully recover”. To think about it, carrying an injury and going on to win her first Major after so many futile attempts is such an incredible feat.
Halep overcame a shaky start to her Paris campaign, defeating Alison Riske in three sets before storming to the final with terrific wins over Elise Mertens, Angelique Kerber, and Garbine Muguruza. In the final, she came from a set and a break down to oust Sloane Stephens, who was undefeated in finals throughout her career before that encounter, claiming her first Grand Slam title and keeping her number one ranking after three defeats on a similar stage.
The world number one’s doctors have advised her to have more rest and continue treatment and she made the heavy decision to announce her withdrawal less than a week before the tournament begins proceedings.
Halep’s grass-court preparations
Halep’s withdrawal from Eastbourne meant that she will enter the Wimbledon Championships without any match practice but her number one ranking will be safe at least for another two weeks. She is defending quarterfinal points at Wimbledon but the top-ranked player will look to ride on her momentum and mount a serious challenge for her second Major title in a space of two months.
Nonetheless, the Nature Valley International will still welcome a world-class field with world number two Caroline Wozniacki now being the top seed with former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova leading the title contenders. Karolina Pliskova, who is slated to be the second seed, will look to turn around her disappointing start to the grass-court season, and Halep’s spot in the draw will now be replaced by Hsieh Su-wei.
“I loved competing in Eastbourne last year and hope to see you again at this wonderful event next year. Thanks for the understanding and support,” Halep concluded her statement by showing her gratitude towards her fans and the tournament.