The immediate playing future of former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber is in doubt, with the German retiring from her second round match at the Adelaide International with a back injury.
Kerber, who also made the semi finals at Melbourne Park in 2018, dropped the first set to Dayana Yastremska 6-3 and was trailing 2-0 in the second set when she called the trainer for treatment on her lower back, before conceding the match.
The 31-year-old, who has also won Wimbledon and the US Open, is ranked 18th in the world but has struggled since making the fourth round at last year’s Australian Open.
She’s lost four of her last five grand slam matches, including first round losses at both the French and US Opens in 2019. All four defeats came to players ranked outside the top 30 in the world.
It’s a big fall from grace for the German, who was ranked number two in the world just 12 months ago.
The result means Yastemska will now play Donna Vekic in the next round.
Elsewhere at the Adelaide International Russia’s Andrey Rublev cruised into the quarter finals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Sam Querry.
Rublev is regarded as one to watch at next week’s Australian Open, having won the Qatar Open last week, and boasting a win over Roger Federer at the Cincinnati Masters in August. Rublev’s win in Qatar moved the 22-year-old into the world’s top 20 for the first time in his career.