BIEL, Switzerland - Regina Kulikova was one of the breakthrough stories of the 2010 season but her progress was hampered by a back injury, and now the Russian rising star, who was forced to retire in qualies at the Australian Open, has announced she will take an extended break to finally shake the injury.
"I've decided to take a long break, of minimum four months, because of my serious back injury," said Kulikova, who just turned 23 this week. "I have been suffering with it the last two years, since Birmingham and Wimbledon in 2010. I had a long break then for six months, but it didn't work, because after coming back on court at the Australian Open in 2011 I was having the problems with my back again. I couldn't play 100% after that. I have been getting treatment while playing tournaments since then but now my problem has gotten much worse, so I need special treatments. I may even have to have surgery.
"I hope to come back on the court and continue my professional career. Tennis is my life and I will fight for it. It's a very difficult period in my life.
"I want to thank everyone for their support and I hope to get better soon."
Kulikova's breakthrough first half of 2010 included a run to the quarters of the Premier-level event in Dubai, taking out then-World No.4 Svetlana Kuznetsova en route before falling to then-No.9 Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets.
Kulikova may also be remembered for playing what was, at the time, the second-longest match in the Open Era at the 2010 Australian Open, battling Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in a four-hour, 19-minute marathon (it has since been pushed to third-longest with the four-hour, 44-minute match between Francesca Schiavone and Kuznetsova at the 2011 Australian Open).