MADRID (Reuters) - Angelique Kerber has been forced to withdraw from the Madrid Open, she said on Tuesday, after the fourth seed at the event injured her ankle in practice ahead of her scheduled round of 32 match against Petra Martic.
The German had been one of the favourites to battle world number one Naomi Osaka for the title in the Spanish capital this week and had a chance to overhaul the Japanese at the top of the rankings.
The ankle injury is another setback for 2018 Wimbledon champion Kerber, who missed two weeks of the claycourt season after picking up a virus in Monterrey last month, and she set her sights on returning in time for next week’s Italian Open.
“I think it’s the worst (claycourt season) I ever had. I was really looking forward to this year,” Kerber told a news conference.
“Hopefully I can be ready for the next big ones. I hope there are big chances to play in Rome.”
Martic automatically qualified for the last 16 as a result of Kerber’s withdrawal and will meet the winner of the last 32 tie between Donna Vekic and Kristyna Pliskova taking place later on Tuesday.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Hugh Lawson