|Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai (L) is among the female players contending for the China Open crown. (People's Daily Online Photo/Li Zhenyu)|
BEIJING, Oct. 1, 2011 -- The China Open, which formally kicks off today suffers a setback as a number of tennis superstars who were supposed to participate withdraw from the WTA premier event.
According to the tournament organizers, world number one men's tennis player Novak Djokovic, who has taken part in the China Open multiple times, has pulled out of the Beijing event due to a back injury. To the best of this journalist's knowledge, the only household name in the men's game is fallen American star Andy Roddick.
Former world number one women's player Serena Williams, who has skipped last year's China Open, is also not in draw at the mandatory WTA event. Apart from Djokovic and Williams, Russian superstar Maria Sharapova is absent from the WTA premier event as well.
World number one female player Caroline Wozniacki, third-ranked Victoria Azarenka, world number four Vera Zvonareva, and Chinese stars Li Na and Peng Shuai are among the players contending for the $775,500 first prize.