epa03552858 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus hits a forehand during her semi final match against Sloane Stephens of the US at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 24 January 2013. EPA/DENNIS SABANGAN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT |
Victoria Azarenka has been forced to withdraw from the Dubai Duty Free Championships for the second year running. The Australian Open champion, who won last week’s Qatar Total Open, is suffering from a bone bruise in her right foot.
Azarenka made the short flight from Doha to Dubai late on Monday night but sought a medical assessment early today and was advised not to contest the $US 2 million Premier tournament.
After making her announcement, Azarenka echoed the thoughts of former men’s no.1 Rafael Nadal who insists too much tennis is played on hard courts and injuries for top-flight players who by virtue of their success play a lot of matches are inevitable.
Azarenka played five demanding matches on the way to the Doha title, including a two and a half hours final against Serena Williams who deposed her as world no.1. “The schedule is sometimes difficult and rough on the body,” she said.
She consulted with both her coach Sam Sumyk and traveling physiotherapist, Per Bastolt, before making her decision. “The game has become so physical, and it takes so much out of you that sometimes you just need a break,” said the 23 year-old who last year was forced out by an ankle injury.
“Obviously I’ve been playing on the injury a lot. I had a lot of tennis over the last five days. So going to a new tournament is too much to handle right now. I have been advised by my physio that it’s just not getting better. We tried. So that’s it.”
Azarenka will now head to Los Angeles to see a foot specialist and also get minor surgery to finally remove the infected toe-nail she suffered before the Australian Open.
Her intention is still to play back to back tournaments next month at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells followed by the Sony Open in Miami. But she is considering reassessing her schedule for 2014. “You plan so much in advance, and you cannot know in November what’s going to happen in February,” she said.
“I’m very disappointed I cannot play here, and I feel I’m playing very good tennis at the moment. But I need to be smart. I cannot force things and make things worse than they are. That just won’t make any sense.”
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