None of Britain's top five tennis stars will appear at Roehampton

Roehampton tennis showcase evaporates into low-key exhibition as withdrawals from Heather Watson and Harriet Dart mean NONE of Britain’s top five female stars will be in action

  • Roehampton’s showcase tennis event has been hit by major withdrawals 
  • Heather Watson and Harriet Dart have withdrawn from the televised event 
  • It was hoped the event could be the equivalent of the ‘Battle of the Brits’

This week’s planned showcase for British women’s tennis has evaporated into the most low-key of exhibition events after a slew of injuries and no-shows.

Not one of the country’s top five ranked players will be in action at Roehampton after Heather Watson and Harriet Dart on Monday made late withdrawals from a tournament which the BBC has agreed to televise.

The Progress Tour Women’s Championships hoped to be the female answer to the successful ‘Battle of the Brits’ which had all eight of the leading men participating at the end of last month.

Roehampton’s showcase event will feature none of Britain’s top five female tennis stars

It already had the shine taken off it by Jo Konta, easily the country’s best player, deciding to sit it out as she waits to decide when to return, subject to developments with the US Open.

British number four Samantha Murray was already injured while number five Naiktha Bains was a no-show.

Then yesterday GB’s second ranked player, Heather Watson, pulled out with foot problems and was quickly followed by number three Harriet Dart, who has reported a groin problem. It leaves world number 246 Katie Swan, a late wildcard, as the top seed, and the lack of depth in the GB women’s game fully exposed.

Heather Watson (pictured) and Harriet Dart were the latest stars to pull out from the event

It was hoped that the event would be the women’s equivalent of ‘Battle of the Brits’

The loss of Watson, the world number 50, is the biggest blow to an event that started out with good intentions.

‘My foot injury happened last week and it has been getting worse and worse,’ she said. ‘I have pain simply walking so I’m taking it very seriously. I won’t be playing tennis at all for the next three days and will see how it’s healing.’

Neither she nor Dart have played competitively since lockdown began. Teenager Emma Raducanu, probably the country’s best women prospect, is another absentee.

The turnout may well be better for the team event Jamie Murray is planning for later this month, whose strength will depend somewhat on the fate of upcoming tournaments in the United States. The US Open is still looking to go ahead.

Pictures emerged yesterday of Rafael Nadal practising on clay in Spain, further encouraging speculation that he plans to skip New York and focus on the European events that are more certain to happen in September.

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