Melbourne: Australian tennis ace Samantha Stosur joined the list of players who would give the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi a miss.
Stosur would have been top seed and gold medal favourite for the women’s singles in Delhi but, as expected, the world number five will skip the Games to focus on the bigger season-ending events on the main tour.
Tennis is making its Commonwealth Games debut in Delhi because of the sport’s popularity in India.
Sania Mirza is a sporting superstar in her homeland, while grand slam doubles champions Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes further boost India’s medal chances.
However, the draws for both the men’s and women’s singles will be farcically weak.
The Games clash with the prestigious China Open and conclude the day before Stosur is due to defend her title in Osaka from October 11.
With more match wins on tour than any other woman in the world this year, Stosur is also in line to qualify for the season-ending championships in Bali.
Failure to compete in Beijing and Osaka would place Stosur’s position in jeopardy.
Hewitt, who led the Australian Davis Cup team’s boycott of India last year due to security concerns, has also decided not to nominate for the Commonwealth Games.
Fortunately for him but embarrassingly for tennis, Australia’s world number 81 Peter Luczak is likely to be the men’s top seed.
Scotland’s world number four Andy Murray and the 25th-ranked Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus are the only two players - other than Hewitt - above Luczak in the Commonwealth standings.
All indications, though, have been that Murray and Baghdatis will also decide against contesting the Games.
With most of the world’s leading players absent, the Australian contingent will fancy its chances of winning medals in Delhi.
Canada’s world number 50 Aleksandra Wozniak and Britain’s world number 57 Elena Baltacha are the only women’s players ranked higher than Australian singles hopefuls Jarmila Groth, Athens Olympic bronze medallist Alicia Molik, Anastasia Rodionova and Sophie Ferguson.
Aside from Luczak, Marinko Matosevic, Chris Guccione, Matthew Ebden, Brydan Klein, Sam Groth and Paul Hanley have nominated for the men’s singles or doubles.