Li Na of China has withdrawn from the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
Worse news for the world No. 2 and her fans is that because her chronically troublesome right knee continues to prevent her from competing the way she can, she also will miss the next big event in Cincinnati and as well as the U.S. Open. She hopes to be back for a pair of tournaments in China in the fall.
Here's her statement, from her Facebook page.
"I wanted to let all of my great fans know that unfortunately I am going to have to withdraw from the upcoming WTA events in Montreal and Cincinnati, as well as the US Open. Since March, I have been struggling with my knee and it is just not where I need it to be in order to play at the highest level. My medical team has advised me that I need to take some time off to rest my knee so it heels (sic). I look forward to getting back on the court this fall in Wuhan and Beijing. - LI NA"
Li reached the final in Montreal the last time it was played there in 2012, losing to reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
The knee has always been an issue. The description in her recent memoirs about the surgeries and excruciating rehabs she has gone through to return to the top of the game is painful just to read.
The extended absence just compounds the Chinese star's recent struggles, or perhaps is one of the reasons behind them.
The biggest blow this season for Li was losing longtime coach Carlos Rodriguez, who helped mastermind a late-career surge that resulted in a career-best ranking of No. 2 and Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2014.
The bosses at the Beijing academy Rodriguez runs had had enough of his regular absences to travel on tour with his pupil, feeling the business suffered in his absence.
That news was announced during the second week of Wimbledon, after Li's early exit there. She is currently without a coach.
After reaching the semi-finals at Indian Wells and the final in Miami in March and April, Li had a decent – not great – clay-court campaign as she reached the quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome. But she was shockingly ousted from the French Open in the first round by Kristina Mladenovic. She then went to Wimbledon without playing a grass warmup event and lost to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the third round.
The 32-year-old hasn't played since.
Li's first knee surgery was in March of 2008, and she missed more than three months and 10 tournaments. She missed another chunk of time in 2009. Her only official withdrawal this season because of the knee was in Stuttgart in April, but it's an ongoing battle to keep it fit enough to play. She has been sporting the supporting tape on it for as long as we can remember.
Li's withdrawal shuffles the seeds in Montreal a little. Local heroine Genie Bouchard will now be the No. 5 seed although, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't change much for her because she remains outside the top 4 seeds. Yvonne Meusburger of Austriaalso will miss the tournament. As a result, two players get promoted to the main draw and won't have to go through qualifying: Zahlavova Strycova and American Alison Riske.