The DFS Classic has received another blow with news that Maria Sharapova will not be playing at the Edgbaston Priory Club for the first time in five years.
The Russian superstar has been the public face of the tournament since she came through qualifying to reach the semi-finals in 2003, and has gone on to win the event twice en route to becoming the biggest name in women's tennis.
Unlike in previous years, however, she did not enter this time round, although organisers always harboured the hope she would still come to a venue for which she has professed her affection on numerous occasions.
That hope might have crystalised into expectation on Monday when the 21-year-old was surprisingly eliminated from the French Open but she has opted to keep next week clear and clear up any niggling injury concerns ahead of her assault on the Wimbledon title.
Instead Sharapova will head to Eastbourne for the first time in her career, eschewing her long-established pattern of taking the week off before a Grand Slam event.
The revelation could not come at a worse time for DFS Classic tournament officials who are facing a battle to keep the event in Birmingham. They have until December to submit a bid for the tournament and, if they are unsuccessful, the 2009 DFS Classic could be the last in the city.
Sharapova's conqueror, however, Dinara Safina is entered in the main draw and will probably be seeded fourth behind reigning champion Jelena Jankovic, Marion Bartoli and 2006 victor Vera Zvonareva.