Tennis fans have been left dismayed after the news of another of the world's top players withdrawing from the upcoming Australian Open due to injury concerns.
Women's world No.4 Karolina Pliskova will be another notable absentee at Melbourne Park next year, after announcing she would miss the season opening grand slam because of a right-hand injury sustained during a training session.
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Her announcement follows the high-profile withdrawals of Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu, as tennis officials prepare for the busiest summer of tennis since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pliskova will miss the first grand slam of 2022 as well as the lead-in WTA events in Adelaide and Sydney in early January.
The 29-year-old, who made the semi-finals of the 2019 Australian Open, said she was devastated to have to miss the tournament.
"Unfortunately I hurt my right hand in practice yesterday and I won't be able to play in Adelaide, Sydney, and (the) Australian Open this year," the former top-ranked star said in a statement posted on the grand slam event's official Twitter feed.
"I am sad not being able to start my season in Australia and I will miss my Australian fans very much."
Australian Open officials on Thursday confirmed Pliskova's withdrawal from the event, and tweeted: "You will be missed... Wishing you a speedy recovery."
Big name withdrawal from the Australian Open:
World number 4, Karolina Pliskova out due to injury.
Second big name out of women’s draw, joining Serena Williams in not making trip to Australia. #ausopen
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) December 15, 2021
Would be gutting stuff after the Kajaissance of last summer for Pliskova to miss a hard court Slam at this stage of her career.
— David Kane (@DKTNNS) December 15, 2021
— John Horn (@SportsHorn) December 15, 2021
Take care @KaPliskova, we are so sorry you won't be playing in January. All the best for a speedy recovery.
— Craig Tiley (@CraigTiley) December 16, 2021
Get well soon Karolina! 💕
— JANE 🇨🇦🐊🦋🐺 (@JANE79591745) December 16, 2021
Williams last week confirmed she will not contest the Australian Open because she is not "where she needs to be physically to compete".
Fellow grand slam champion Andreescu withdrew from the main draw to "take some additional time to reflect, train and be ready for the upcoming 2022 tennis season".
The Australian Open begins on January 17.
Unvaxxed Aussie ace set to miss Australian Open
Teenage sensation Olivia Gadecki is set to miss the entire Australian summer of tennis after choosing not to get vaccinated.
Barely a month after making her Fed Cup debut for Australia, Gadecki has rocked tennis circles with her stance that conflicts with government regulations that require all players to be fully vaccinated to contest the Australian Open from January 17-30.
It's understood Tennis Australia has been working for weeks trying to convince Gadecki to change her mind.
But it's believed the 19-year-old won't budge despite being a shoo-in for an Open wildcard.
Mentored this year by esteemed women's coach David Taylor, Gadecki enjoyed a phenomenal breakout season in 2021 that even captured the attention and admiration of world No.1 Ash Barty.
Unranked at the start of the year, Gadecki has soared to No.237 in the world following a 50-win, two-title, four-final season on the WTA's lower-level circuits.
The Queenslander hasn't looked back since a stunning victory over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the Phillip Island Trophy at Melbourne Park in February.
"Second-ever pro match. It's a pretty amazing thing. She's a pretty good story," Taylor recently told AAP from his European base in Liechtenstein.
"She had zero ranking, zero, February 1 and here she is top 250 already - it's unheard of.
"In her first-ever pro match she lost to the world No.60 in three sets, second-ever match beats Kenin and then in her first-ever $25,000 pro event, she gets to the final in Madrid.
"She's going to be good. This girl will be good, I think."
But unless there is a late change of heart, Australian fans won't get to see the emerging talent play this summer.
It's also unclear if Gadecki's decision not to get vaccinated will affect her scholarships with Tennis Australia, though it's likely TA will continue to support her remotely.
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