January 10, 2016 / 4:22 AM / 2 years ago

Champion Kvitova out of Sydney tournament with illness

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Petra Kvitova will not defend her title at this week’s Sydney International tournament after the Czech withdrew due to a gastrointestinal illness, organizers said on Sunday.

Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova returns the ball to Russia's Maria Sharapova during their final match of the Fed Cup tennis tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, November 15, 2015. REUTERS/David W Cerny

The 25-year-old also pulled out of last week’s Shenzhen Open in China with the illness and will be lacking match practice when the Australian Open, the year’s first grand slam, begins in Melbourne on Jan. 18.

“I‘m really disappointed to have to withdraw ... but unfortunately I am still not feeling well,” Kvitova, who has not played a competitive match since the Fed Cup final in November, said in a statement.

”Being defending champion, this tournament obviously means a lot to me and I’ve always had a wonderful time playing this event.

“I look forward to coming back in future years to play.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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