The WTA Tour Championships could prove a strain too far for some of the WTA’s top players after a mysterious illness played havoc with competitors on tour this month.
Petra Kvitova, fifth in the world, looked slow and pale during her China Open second-round match with Carla Suarez Navarro a week ago. Stomach flu was apparently the cause of the problem and the reason for her underperformance, while Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – world number 24 – also withdrew from the tournament with a gastrointestinal illness.
This bug could have serious repercussions of Kvitova’s attempted to reach her second WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul in just a few weeks time. China was meant to boost the 22-year-old’s chances of making the showpiece event and she would have needed form in order to topple the four better players above her in the rankings.
She isn’t the only one to have felt the affects of a dodgy bug that has swept through the tour however. Victoria Azarenka had to take a couple of breathers during her second-round defeat in Japan last month after feeling dizzy on court, while US Champion Serena Williams withdrew from the China Open after suffering a heavy flu bug around the same time.
No one knows if the illnesses are related but it is nevertheless concerning that three of the world’s top five players have come down with something so close to the Tour Championships.
Match practice is vital for Kvitova is she is to compete properly in Turkey this October and Beijing was meant thought of as the perfect preparation for the event. Now, however, there is concern whether or not she can even compete at the highest level when she touches down in Istanbul in three week’s time.