In a major blow to the Madrid Open, the season’s most in-form player, Victoria Azarenka announced her withdrawal from this prestigious Premier Mandatory claycourt tournament due to a back injury on Wednesday. The fourth seed was supposed to play her third round match later in the day against 19-year-old American Louisa Chirico, who now advances to the quarter-finals.
The former World No. 1 had been playing with supreme confidence this year and surged to the title at Brisbane, Indian Wells and Miami. Even though clay is her least successful surface, she had been doing well at Madrid and did not drop more than six games in each of her first two rounds.
But the Belarusian, unfortunately, had tweaked her back during her opening match which never healed completely. She felt the discomfort once more during her Wednesday practice session and thought it would be wiser to opt out with the French Open less than three weeks away.
“Unfortunately in my first match I think I tweaked my back a little bit. It was really cold, and, I don’t know, I think it’s much easier to get a little bit hurt when it’s that cold,” Azarenka said, adding, “Today before my tennis warm-up it did feel better, but once I started hitting it came back.
Gavrilova gets her second consecutive win over Kvitova
Azarenka was not the only major casualty on Wednesday as the event also lost its defending women’s champion Petra Kvitova. The fifth-seeded Czech slumped to a 3-6, 4-6 defeat to rising Australian star Daria Gavrilova, who had shown her the door at this year’s Australian Open too.
Easy win for Halep
The two-time winner’s loss leaves 2014 runner-up Simona Halep as the only top-10 player still remaining in the draw of the Madrid Open, which has seen an exodus of seeds the last three days. The sixth-seeded Romanian never faltered during her 6-2, 6-3 demolition of the Rabat champion Timea Bacsinszky.
The Swiss had been on a seven-match winning streak but the quick turnaround from the Moroccan capital to the Spanish capital had its toll on her as fatigue set in. Nonetheless, credit should not be taken away from Halep who fired 19 winners past Bacsinszky against 18 unforced errors to seal her place in her second Madrid quarter-final in three years.Published 04 May 2016, 22:01 IST