SYDNEY -- Angelique Kerber brought to eight the number of top-10 women's tennis players laid low by injuries or illness in the leadup to the Australian Open when she withdrew from the Sydney International on Tuesday with a stomach illness.
No. 7-ranked Kerber reached the final of last week's Brisbane International and beat Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the first round in Sydney. But she started to feel ill during that match and informed tournament organizers she would be unable to play her second-round match against Russia's Ekaterina Makarova.
"I'm very sorry I can't go on court today but I'm not feeling 100 percent," Kerber said. "I don't want to risk my health before Melbourne, of course, but I love to come back to the Apia International Sydney and always have good results here -- semifinals last year and the final two years ago."
The Sydney tournament already lost fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska to a leg injury and defending champion Petra Kvitova, ranked No. 6, to a stomach virus, along with Australia's Daria Gavrilova, winner of last week's Hopman Cup, who has an abdominal strain.
Last week, four other top-ranked women either retired or withdrew from tournaments due to injuries: No. 1 Serena Williams (Hopman Cup/knee), second-ranked Simona Halep (Brisbane/ankle), No. 3 Garbine Muguruza (Brisbane/foot) and No. 5 Maria Sharapova (Brisbane/forearm).
Ninth-ranked Lucie Safarova has withdrawn from the Australian Open with a bacterial infection, leaving No. 10 Venus Williams as the only active member of the women's top-10 without a disclosed injury or illness ahead of the tournament, which starts next Monday.