The Back of the West Classic (Wta Stanford 2017) took a bit of a hit on Friday. Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka announced that she would not be participating in the tournament. Her withdrawal from the tournament will dilute the talent a little as the Wimbledon 2017 fourth-rounder looked to be getting back to strong form following her maternity leave. The good news for her fans is that the withdrawal is due to illness as opposed to an injury that might endure over the long term.

Illness sidelines Azarenka

"I am very sad to not be able to compete in Stanford next week,” said Azarenka (qtd. at the homepage for the tournament on July 28th).

“I've been feeling sick with a viral illness all week and therefore will not be able to compete next week."

The disappointing news of Azarenka's withdrawal comes one day after she was awarded a wild card entry into the WTA Cincinnati draw in August. That's a much bigger event than Stanford in terms of prize money and ranking points. It will be played toward the middle of the month, much closer to the start date of the 2017 US Open from Flushing Meadows in New York. The news also came shortly after WTA Stanford announced that Petra Kvitova would be in the draw. It seems that the tournament gained one major star one day and then lost another the next.

“We certainly wish Vika a speedy recovery and hope to see her back on the court this summer,” Vickie Gunnarsson, the Bank of the West Classic Tournament Director, said.

“Unfortunately these things happen, but the health of the players must always be the number one priority.”

Kvitova, Sharapova, and Keys still expected

With Kvitova among other bright lights on tour, the 2017 Bank of the West Classic still has a deep cast, especially for such a low-tiered tournament. Following Azarenka's withdrawal there are still several key players expected to contest the draw.

Further last-minute withdrawals are still possible. But right now Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, Madison Keys, and Garbine Muguruza are expected in the tournament. The draw, when it is released, will also feature Catherine Bellis and Ana Konjuh, two players that appear to have bright futures on the WTA tour.

Besides Keys and Bellis, American hopes in the California event include Coco Vandeweghe, Alison Riske, Julia Boserup, and Claire Liu. Vandeweghe is a major hope for the USA as she did well at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this season.

The Bank of the West Classic will be played from July 31st to August 6th. As such, the 28-player draw is expected shortly, with byes going to the top-four seeds.

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