Doha: World number two Simona Halep pulled out of the Qatar Open yesterday with a recurrence of the foot injury which had forced her out of the game since the Australian Open.
A “frustrated” Halep made her announcement just after winning her quarter-final against American teenage qualifier, Catherine Bellis, 6-0 6-4.
“I withdraw because I cannot play anymore and it’s going to be dangerous if I force it,” she told reporters.
She said it was the same problem that she had in Melbourne, where she lost the Australian Open final to Caroline Wozniacki.
“Today it was worse, and that’s why I took this decision. It’s not easy, but I talked to my doctor. He said that I didn’t have enough time to recover.
“The MRI shows that I have fluid and also tendonitis at the fourth toe.
“So I have just to take care of it and thinking about the health first.”
The Romanian was making her return to competitive action in Doha after a lay-off of more than two weeks, which had also seen her drop out of a Fed Cup tie last weekend.
She spoke earlier in the week in Doha that her right foot and ankle were painful but would take the Qatar tournament “day-by-day”.
Halep added that she would not return to action until Indian Wells at the earliest, which begins next month.
Meanwhile, Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki continued her sensational start to the season beating two-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in three sets.
Wozniacki won 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-3 to progress to the semi-finals in a high-quality contest lasting almost two-and-a-half hours.
The Dane is also assured of holding on to her world number one spot after her main challenger Halep’s withdrawal.
By advancing to the semi-final, Wozniacki becomes just the fourth woman in history to pass $30 million in tennis prize money.
Wozniacki hit 46 winners in a match free of controversy after the previous night on court when the Dane complained about her opponent Monica Niculescu’s grunting.
She will play either Petra Kvitova or Julia Goerges in the semi-final.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza is through to tomorrow’s final – and will get a day’s rest because of the withdrawal of Halep – after beating France’s Caroline Garcia 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
She said it was the best match she had played so far this season.
“I’m happy overall with the match because even though in the first set she played very well, you know, this kind of game and match changes a lot,” said Muguruza.
“So I knew that if I keep concentrated and fighting, it could turn around.”