Top-ranked Simona Halep withdraws from WTA Finals

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 file photo, Simona Halep, of Romania, returns to Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, during the finals at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament in Mason, Ohio. Halep is back as the year-end No. 1 for the second year in a row despite a back injury that doctors say could lead to a long-term problem. Halep won her first major title at this year's French Open and has had a consistent season but may be forced to pull out of the upcoming Kremlin Cup and the season-ending WTA Finals because of a herniated disk. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

SINGAPORE — The Women's Tennis Association said Thursday that No. 1-ranked Simona Halep has withdrawn from the WTA Finals because of a lower back injury.

Halep's withdrawal means Kiki Bertens has qualified for the final spot, joining Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina in Singapore for the $7 million tournament from Oct. 21-28.

Halep says: "Unfortunately, after much discussion with my team and doctors, I have made the decision to withdraw ... I wanted to finish 2018 on a high after such an incredible year, but sadly my back injury hasn't healed the way we hoped it would and I need to put my long-term health first."

Halep clinched the year-end top ranking on Monday. She had her best year on tour in 2018, reaching the Australian Open final and then winning her first Grand Slam title in the French Open a few months later.

But she announced at the start of this month that she had an MRI exam after retiring from her first-round match at the China Open, and that a herniated disc problem was found.

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