MOSCOW • Romania's world No. 1 tennis player Simona Halep yesterday withdrew from the Kremlin Cup, a joint WTA and ATP event this week, owing to concerns over a niggling back injury.
Her withdrawal also throws her participation at the WTA Finals in Singapore, which starts on Sunday, into further doubt.
"I tried everything I could to be ready here as I really wanted to play," Halep said. "But, unfortunately, the back is still causing me pain and I don't want to take any unnecessary risks."
The 27-year-old's appearance in Moscow and the WTA Finals had been in doubt when she withdrew after retiring in her opening match in Beijing two weeks ago and was diagnosed with a herniated disk in her back.
Halep, who has already qualified for the year-ending WTA Finals to be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, said she needed more time to recover completely from her back injury.
"While it's disappointing to withdraw, I know it's important to put my health first," she added.
Halep is the only player to have qualified for all five editions of the WTA Finals since the tournament moved to Singapore in 2014. Next year's edition will be hosted in Shenzhen for 10 years.
Simona Halep has lost the last three matches she has played - her openers at the US Open in New York, the Wuhan Open and the China Open in Beijing.
It remains to be seen if she will be fit enough to make her way to Singapore when the tournament begins. In a media interview on Monday, she said that if she could not play in Moscow, it is "very doubtful" that she will be able to compete at the WTA Finals.
"Because it's very close... I don't know now, but I will take a decision for my health," she said, adding that she had been doing physiotherapy in hopes of making her back stronger.
French Open finalist Sloane Stephens, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, Wimbledon winner Angelique Kerber, US Open champion Naomi Osaka and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova have also qualified for the WTA Finals. Two more spots are up for grabs.
Halep played in two Grand Slam finals this year, winning the French Open crown at Roland Garros in June after having lost to Wozniacki at the Australian Open in January. She also won titles in Shenzhen and Montreal, leading the rankings for 40 weeks this year.