CARA Black’s preparations for next week’s Australian Open were dealt a major blow after retiring from her first round match due to illness at the Hobart International yesterday.
The Zimbabwean tennis queen and her new playing partner Saisai Zheng from China were trailing 0-3 in the first set of their first round match against Russia’s Anatolyevna Diatchenko and Monica Niculescu from Romania when the match was halted.
The Hobart International organisers later confirmed Black’s withdrawal on their official Twitter feed.
“Cara Black retires from her doubles match with illness,” the organisers said.
“She and Zheng, the top seeds, bow out to Diatchenko and Niculescu while trailing 0-3.”
Black’s illness comes less than a week before the start of the 2015 edition of the Australian Open which starts on January 19, leaving the pair with very limited time together before the first grand slam of the year.
The veteran Zimbabwean tennis player, who won the WTA finals with India’s Sania Mirza late last year, recently announced her plans to retire from the game and the forthcoming Australian Open was expected to be her swansong.
Black, who turns 36 on February 17, reportedly said her decision to hang up rackets in Australia would have sentimental value since it is the home country of her husband Brett Stephens, father of the couple’s two-year-old son Lachlan.
Black, with over 58 WTA titles, 11 ITF titles under her belt and career prize money totalling $7 673 388 since turning professional in 1998 has over the years enjoyed a good record at the year’s first grand slam.
She won the women’s doubles once in 2007 with former partner Liezel Huber and captured the mixed doubles title in 2010 with India’s Leander Paes.
Last year Black and Sania Mirza lost to top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy in the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles.