Bianca Andreescu withdraws from WTA Finals due to injury

SHENZHEN, China — Canada’s Bianca Andreescu says she is withdrawing from the WTA Finals due to an injury to her left knee.

Andreescu said results from an MRI on Thursday convinced her she should not play her final round-robin match against Elina Svitolina on Friday at the season-ending, US$14-million event.

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., was eliminated from championship contention after retiring from her match against Karolina Pliskova on Monday as a result of the injury.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Andreescu, who shook hands with Pliskova after losing the first set 6-3, dropping her record to 0-2.

“It’s the last tournament of the season. You want to go all out, but stuff happens. You just got to take a step back, re-evaluate. That’s what I did. I think this is the best decision for me right now.”

American Sofia Kenin will replace Andreescu for the match against Svitolina.

With her decision, Andreescu gives up a minimum of $40,000 and 125 ranking points — which goes to the loser of Friday’s match. The winner gets $305,000 and 250 ranking points.

Andreescu said she twisted her knee during a forehand return in the fifth game against Pliskova.

“I heard a crack,” she said. “After that, it was hard to put pressure on it. On the spot the physio thought it was my meniscus, so she taped it up. It was really hard to bend with the taping and the pain kept getting worse, so I had to stop.

“I fought with what I had, but I didn’t want to get it worse.”

The decision ends a year which was extremely successful, in spite of several injuries.

Andreescu reached a Canadian record No. 4 in the women’s tennis rankings after winning her first three career tournaments, including the U.S. Open for her first Grand Slam title.

In between winning her first and second events, Andreescu was sidelined for almost four months because of a shoulder injury.

The Canadian hurt her back in her opening match at the WTA Finals, a loss to Simona Halep, before suffering the season-ending knee injury.

“Definitely, I need some time off,” she said. “It’s been a short yet long season at the same time for me. I’m definitely going to take time off, be with my family, with my friends, recoup, then start my pre-season.

“I’ll become even stronger for 2020.”

Andreescu will drop at least one spot to No. 5 and could fall to No. 6 in the year-end rankings.

Andreescu is the second player to pull out of the WTA Finals during the event because of injury. Japan’s Naomi Osaka dropped out because of a shoulder injury and was replaced by Kiki Bertens.

Meanwhile, top-ranked Ash Barty reached the semifinals in her debut appearance at the WTA Finals, beating Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to finish with a 2-1 record in the Red Group.

Barty, the first Australian woman to earn year-end No. 1 ranking, won her first Grand Slam trophy at the French Open in June and then reached the top of the rankings.

“I feel like I executed really well tonight,” Barty said on court. “Overall, I knew I had to come out here and play aggressively, and play to win.

“I’m really excited to have another chance to come out and play here on this beautiful court.”

Belinda Bencic joined Barty in the semifinals after Bertens retired in their match with the Swiss player leading 7-5, 1-0.

Switzerland’s Bencic, like Barty, is making her WTA Finals singles debut.

“It’s pretty amazing, especially (because) I made it at the last minute,” said Bencic, the last to qualify for the eight-player field. “I’m through the group (even though) I lost the first match here.”

Barty will next play either Pliskova or Halep in the semifinals, while Bencic will face defending champion Svitolina.

Barty saved all four break points she faced in the first set and broke Kvitova’s serve in the fifth game. The Czech player posted 20 unforced errors in the opening set.

In the first game of the second set, Barty broke Kvitova’s serve on her third break point and quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Kvitova, who won the season-ending title in her debut in 2011, finished the round robin 0-3 for the second consecutive year.

“When it came to the deciding points, she always played better than me,” Kvitova said. “I think the serve didn’t help me at all today.”

Bertens, who would have moved onto the semifinals if she had beaten Bencic in the match, had her blood pressure taken on the court. She was teary-eyed when she decided to stop.

“I didn’t feel well on court,” Bertens said. “I had some problems with my stomach. The energy was not there and I was a little bit dizzy. It was just too much to continue.”

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