x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai Tennis Championships: Victoria Azarenka withdraws with foot injury

The world No 2 suffered a bone bruise on her way to beating Serena Williams in the finals of the Qatar Ladies Open at the weekend.

Heavy workload has forced Azarenka to pull out. Karim Jaffar / AFP
Heavy workload has forced Azarenka to pull out. Karim Jaffar / AFP
World No 2 Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis due to a bone bruise to her right foot, making it the second year running that she has withdrawn from this event.
Azarenka, who triumphed at the Australian Open in Melbourne last month and in Doha last week blamed the injury on wear and tear brought about by a heavy schedule.
"Unfortunately I have to withdraw from the tournament due to the an injury which happened last week," she said. "I've been playing a lot tennis in the last five days especially, so going into a new tournament is too much to handle, it was an unfortunate decision that I had to make, and obviously I'm very disappointed with that."
Azarenka confirmed that the injury, which she first felt last Tuesday in Doha, was different to the one that forced her to pull out last year or the one that she struggled with at the Australian open.
It was suggested to the Belarusian that perhaps the women's game is suffering from too many games on hard courts in the same way that the men's is, according to Rafael Nadal.
"I don't know if it's just the hard courts, but it is very difficult on the body, the game has become so physical and it takes so much out of you that sometimes you just need a break," she said.
"And this little thing that happened to me is your body giving you a warning that you have to take care of yourself because health is the most important thing. You have to realise that you need to listen to your body, but I do think that the physical exertion is becoming harder and harder".
Despite playing on with painkillers in Doha, Azarenka said that it is not a situation she is comfortable with.
"I tried for two days but sometimes it is better to feel the pain so I can control the situation a little bit, because when you take too many painkillers you cannot feel your foot and you may cause it to hurt more."
Having withdrawn from the Dubai tournament for a second consecutive year, Azarenka said she would have to look at her schedules more carefully in the future but maintained that how things pan out on the tour are very hard to predict.
Being selective about which tournaments to play in, as Serena Williams has been recently, is no easy task.
"I have to look at that, you have to plan so much in advance and you cannot know in November what will happen in February. You never know how well you're going to do or how your body will respond so you just have to move on and try to deal with the situation," she said.
"I'm very disappointed I cannot play here, I feel I am playing very good at the moment but I need to be smart, I cannot force the issue and make myself worse, it won't make any sense."
"I tried to play but my body said no, I cannot put myself in a position to hurt myself more."
Her withdrawal will leave the world No 1 Williams as a clear favourite to win the event. Azarenka said that she will now return to the US were she will attempt to recuperate from her latest injury. "I will take my time to make sure I'm 100 per cent again," she said.

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