Hamstring injury forces Kerber to pull out of Birmingham event

Angelique Kerber becomes the latest player to withdraw from Aegon Classic

With qualifying completed over the weekend the main draw of one of the premier pre-Wimbledon tennis tournaments kicked off.

A tough year has seen Kerber, 29, cling onto top spot in the world rankings despite not winning a tour level title or registering a win over a Top 20 player.

The German has been struggled with a hamstring strain in her left leg but she was hoping to get some competitive action in before Wimbledon.

"It started slowly and then I really felt it yesterday [Saturday] evening", Kerber said. "You never know how it's going to be".

Kerber, who has struggled all season with poor form, won the title in Birmingham in 2015 and reached the quarterfinals previous year, though has now suffered another blow in what has been an extremely disappointing campaign for her. "This is an important time for me".

Angelique Kerber after winning the Aegon Classic title in 2015
Angelique Kerber after winning the Aegon Classic title in 2015

"It was OK and I started practising again after Paris and then I felt it again in the last few days".

She's missing the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event because of a hamstring injury and says she doesn't want to risk aggravating the problem.

Kerber is chasing an elusive first title this year after failing to get past the third round in her last five tournaments. In the second round Kerber, who reached the final previous year at Wimbledon, could play against Lauren Davis or Naomi Osaka, while in the quarter-finals there could be an interesting match against Kristina Mladenovic.

With Kerber joining the long list of withdrawals, world number eight Konta will now see herself among a group of frontrunners for this week's title.

In the semifinals Kerber may face Dominika Cibulkova.

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