Belgian Mertens pulls out of Abu Dhabi with shoulder injury

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – October 2, 2020 Belgium’s Elise Mertens in action during her third round match against France’s Caroline Garcia REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

(Reuters) – Belgian Elise Mertens withdrew from the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday with a right shoulder injury hours before her opening match of the 2021 tennis season, the women’s governing body said.

The world number 20 was drawn to meet Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in her first round match in the season-opening event in the United Arab Emirates and will be replaced by Greek lucky loser Valentini Grammatikopoulou.

Mertens, 25, also pulled out from the doubles, in which she was to partner Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, and would hope to regain fitness ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam, which starts in Melbourne from Feb. 8.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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