Belinda Bencic pulls out of WTA Sydney 2017 in pain

Bencic may have had foot injury or just foot pain in her match against Yulia Putintseva on Sunday in Sydney.

Belinda Bencic, who played in the Hopman Cup last week, had a short-lived run at the WTA Sydney event. She opened the tournament against Yulia Putintseva, lost the first set, held her serve three times in the second set, and then withdrew from the tournament. She could be seen favoring her right foot during the match and that was the official reason for her withdrawal.

A foot injury is one that plagued Bencic during the 2016 season. If it resurfaces then her participation in the 2017 Australian Open is in jeopardy. Furthermore, even if she does participate in the first Grand Slam of the year she cannot be considered to be among the favorites at this point. She has not played a tough schedule of late as the Hopman Cup only involved three singles matches and they were exhibition. For her to not be able to make it through two sets of tennis in Sydney is very disconcerting for her fans.

Shortly after withdrawing she posted a video to Twitter which seemed to suggest that the problem is with a cracked toenail. That could actually be taken to be good news as it seems like a smaller matter than a resurfaced injury. According to another Tweet: “Sorry for posting such a disgusting thing lol. Just so people can Stop inventing knew ‘Bencic is injured again’ stories” (January 7th).

The result sees Putintseva into the round of sixteen where she will face either Caroline Wozniacki or Monica Puig. The section of the draw is light given all the changes that have taken place over the last 24 hours. For example, Karolina Pliskova pulled out of the tournament. The official scoresheet for the event mentions a “left thigh injury.” Elina Svitolina also pulled out of the event with what is listed as a “viral illness.” Lastly, Sloane Stephens pulled out of the event with a “left foot injury.”

As always on the WTA Tour, the title doesn’t just go to a player that has tennis skills, but it goes to the player that can survive the war of attrition. In Pliskova’s and Svitolina’s case, they were both active last week as they each went deep in Brisbane, Pliskova winning the title there. I actually questioned if the Czech would pull out of the Sydney draw in a recent article so I wasn’t surprised to see her replaced. I think tennis fans can treat it as a precautionary withdrawal as opposed to anything that might hurt her at Melbourne Park later this month.

With Bencic withdrawing and not getting a proper warm up for Melbourne Park, the Swiss certainly drops down the list of the favorites for the Aussie. Pliskova is looking more dangerous than virtually anyone else at this point and may challenge for the No. 1 ranking in the months ahead.

Shane Lambert