The Australian Open has been rocked by another high-profile withdrawal with American Madison Keys the latest casualty.
Keys, the current world No.13, announced on Thursday morning she will miss the first grand slam of the year with a shoulder injury.
“Hi everyone… Unfortunately I’ve been struggling with a shoulder injury & have been advised by my medical staff to withdraw from the Australian Open this year,” she wrote on social media.
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“This obviously isn’t the best news to start the tennis season, but I also know I’m making the right choice for my body.
“I absolutely love Melbourne and the fans there SO much and can’t wait to see you next year.
“Thank you everyone for your support as always, it means a lot.”
Keys made the last four at the US Open last year. Credit: Jason DeCrow/AP
Keys has reached the last four at Melbourne Park on two occasions, including in 2022, and has also made the final of the US Open.
Her withdrawal follows that of world No.9 Karolina Muchova, who pulled out with a wrist injury.
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The French Open finalist suffered the injury in her charge to the US Open semi-finals in September.
The 27-year-old hasn’t played since losing in New York to eventual champion American Coco Gauff.
“This isn’t my favorite thing to share, especially at the start of a new season, but unfortunately, the pain in a wrist came back in the middle of my tennis preparation,” Muchova posted on social media.
World No.17 Petra Kvitova also withdrew after announcing her pregnancy at the start of the month, while American Lauren Davis is out with a shoulder injury.
The withdrawals elevated former US Open champion Emma Raducanu into the main draw.
Raducanu has slipped to No.301 in the world following wrist and ankle surgeries. Her protected ranking was not good enough for direct entry to the Melbourne Park tournament.
The 21-year-old Briton was also overlooked for a wildcard and was set to take a similar path as her 2021 Flushing Meadows run, when she became the first player in the open era to win a major after starting out in the qualifying rounds.
However, the exit of Davis, which followed withdrawals by Muchova, Kvitova, Irina-Camelia Begu and Caty McNally, opened up a spot for Raducanu in the main draw of the January 14-28 major.
Raducanu beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday in her return to action, but lost to second seed Elina Svitolina on Thursday after taking the first set.
– With AAP