Aryna Sabalenka withdraws from Doha for second straight year

Sabalenka, the 2020 Doha champion, is recuperating from her Australian Open victory
Robert Prange/GettyImages

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka has withdrawn from the WTA 1000 2024 Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha slated to begin on February 11. It is the second consecutive year Sabalenka, the 2020 Doha champion, is bowing out of the tournament.

Sabalenka has withdrawn to give herself more time to recover from winning the Australian Open. Though she did not appear to be severely challenged in the two week Grand Slam, Sabalenka wants off court time to rest and then resume training for the long season ahead.

It is a wise move for Sabalenka to preserve her physical, mental, and emotional health this early in the season with three Grand Slams and the Paris Olympics on the calendar in addition to countless WTA tournaments.

Sabalenka is not the only highly ranked WTA player to withdraw

What was touted as a star-studded 2024 Doha draw filled with past champions has taken a hit. In addition to Sabalenka, the 2020 champion, Jessica Pegula, the 2023 Doha finalist and back-to-back doubles champion (2022 and 2023) with Coco Gauff, withdrew with a neck injury. 2021 Doha champion Petra Kvitova and 2023 quarterfinalist Belinda Bencic are on maternity leave.

Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva and American Peyton Stearns will take Pegula and Sabalenka's spots in the draw. Naomi Osaka has also been granted a wildcard for this event as she continues her return to the WTA after spending 2023 on maternity leave.

Iga Swiatek, the two-time (2022 and 2023) champion is set to return and has her eyes set on a three-peat. Swiatek would be the only three-peat champion in the tournament's 23-year history. Besides, Swiatek, Anastasia Myskina (2003, 2004) and Victoria Azarenka (2012, 2013) are the only other players to win in back-to-back years. Azarenka is slated to play in the event, perhaps she can stop Swiatek from besting her two-peat achievement from a decade ago.

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