Iga Swiatek withdraws from Miami Open as tennis fans left heartbroken

The World No.1 announced the sad decision ahead of her opening match in Miami.

Iga Swiatek, pictured here speaking to reporters after announcing her withdrawal from the Miami Open.
Iga Swiatek speaks to reporters after announcing her withdrawal from the Miami Open. (Photo by Mike Frey/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Iga Swiatek has left tennis fans heartbroken after withdrawing from her title defence at the Miami Open before her opening match. The World No.1 was scheduled to begin her campaign against American player Claire Liu, but announced on Wednesday that she had been forced to withdraw due to a rib injury.

Swiatek revealed at Indian Wells that she was struggling with the ailment and flagged the possibility that she wouldn't be able to back-up in Miami. The Polish star confirmed the sad news on Wednesday.

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"You know that in and after Doha I was struggling with a strong infection," she told reporters. "I was allowed to play, but a strong episode of tough cough led to a rib injury.

"We were trying to handle it and continue to play as long as it was safe for me. We were analysing the data in the last days and my doctor prepared my diagnosis. Unfortunately, I'm still feeling a lot of discomfort and pain and I can't compete."

The three-time grand slam champion suggested the injury wasn't serious enough to keep her sidelined for very long. However she did reveal that she won't play in Poland's Billie Jean King Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in mid-April, and didn't offer a timeline for her return.

"I will keep you updated about where I play next, because it depends on my process of recovering and the recommendation of my medical team," she added.

Swiatek has a strong lead over second-placed Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA rankings. Her status as World No.1 will not be immediately impacted despite being unable to defend the 1000 rankings points she earned in winning the Miami Open title last year.

"Of course I'm going to lose points for this tournament but it doesn't change anything in terms of my approach and my mentality," she said. "I was also aware at the beginning of the season that it's going to be hard for me to defend all these points.

"Missing this tournament is not going to help, but on the other hand, as I said, you know injuries happen and I didn't have any injuries for two or three years. What's going to happen next? We'll see. Obviously it's going to depend on the recovery but for now it's not a horrible scenario."

Iga Swiatek, pictured here waving to the crowd after her loss to Elena Rybakina at Indian Wells.
Iga Swiatek waves to the crowd after her loss to Elena Rybakina at Indian Wells. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Tennis world reacts to news about Iga Swiatek

Speaking on Eurosport, tennis great Mats Wilander suggested Swiatek's injury "might be a good thing for her tennis". He said: "I'm glad that she's getting a time to take a break. I think it comes at a great time in a way - of course, nobody wants anybody to not feel 100 per cent - but for her tennis, I think it might be a good thing.

"Because people keep asking her, 'Hey, last year you won 37 matches in a row. This year you're not winning 37. What's wrong? What's happening? Can you not handle the players, the big power when they go hard to your forehand on a faster [court]?'

"And I think for her it would be a great time to step away, start practicing on a clay court, take her time and get back in it. Because really, right now what's important for her is to do well in Roland Garros. Of course, winning matches before is important, but Roland Garros is when she needs to walk on the court, feel like one of the favourites, because if she feels like it, she's going to be one of the favourites.

"So it comes at a good time. Unfortunately, you're not going to get to see her in Miami. I'm not going to get to see her because I'd love to see her solve the problem (against the power players), but maybe it's better for herself to take a couple of weeks off."

Nevertheless, tennis fans were left heartbroken that they won't be seeing Swiatek defend her title in Miami.

with agencies

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