FILE PHOTO: Tennis - WTA Premier 5 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - September 19, 2020 Belgium's Elise Mertens in action during her quarter final against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova Pool via REUTERS/Riccardo Antimiani
January 8, 2021
(Reuters) – Belgian Elise Mertens withdrew from the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday with a right shoulder injury hours before her opening match of the 2021 tennis season, the women’s governing body said.
The world number 20 was drawn to meet Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in her first round match in the season-opening event in the United Arab Emirates and will be replaced by Greek lucky loser Valentini Grammatikopoulou.
Mertens, 25, also pulled out from the doubles, in which she was to partner Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, and would hope to regain fitness ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam, which starts in Melbourne from Feb. 8.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)