x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Injured Victoria Azarenka will not repeat earlier 'mistakes'

The world's top-ranked women's tennis player opts out of the Dubai Tennis Championships due to an ankle complaint.

Victoria Azarenka, in action in Doha last week, has struggled with injury.
Victoria Azarenka, in action in Doha last week, has struggled with injury.

DUBAI // Victoria Azarenka, the top seed and world No 1, said it was "the best solution" for her to withdraw from the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday because of a lingering ankle injury.

The Belarusian's departure left the tournament without its top two seeds. Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion, was forced to opt out of her second consecutive tournament on Monday after failing recover from a virus.

Azarenka twisted her left ankle in Doha on Saturday, during her semi-finals against Agnieszka Radwanska. The Australian Open champion played with her ankle strapped when she beat Samantha Stosur in Sunday's final and was hoping to be fit to play in Dubai.

"Obviously it's very disappointing," Azarenka said. "But it's life. It's sport. I just have to take care of it and that's it.

"In the [Doha] final, I tried to do everything to be able to play. It took a lot of sacrifice, by taking a lot of painkillers, but apparently it didn't get better."

She said her personal physiotherapist, who travels with her to tournaments, had been concerned about the injury coming into Dubai.

"He obviously wasn't really positive after the final – actually even before that – but we never tried to think too much ahead," she said.

"We were just taking it day by day and doing absolutely everything possible to be ready today [for her match against Julia Goerges]. I tried to hit yesterday [Tuesday] and it was really clear that it's not really possible. But I still wanted to wait and maybe to get a chance, because I wanted to play until the last minute. But there comes a point where you just have to make up your mind. So this was the best solution and the best decision for me."

Li Na, the French Open winner, and Vera Zvonareva have also withdrawn from this week's championships because of injuries, while Dominika Cibulkova was forced to retire from her first round match against Iveta Benesova on Tuesday with a hamstring injury.

Asked about the reasons for that growing injury list, Azarenka said the schedule and the growing physical demands of the sport were to blame.

"I don't know what kind of injuries the other girls have," she said. "For me, obviously I played so much and what happened in Doha was an unfortunate incident.

"Maybe if I had not fallen there, I would have been physically fine to play.

"But, it's just that the game has become so physical. Sometimes it's really tough on the body to play week after week. For example, these tournaments [Doha and Dubai], back-to-back with such a tough field, it takes a lot out of you physically. So it's a really tough schedule."

Azarenka, who is on a 17-match unbeaten run in 2012 and has won three tournaments already this year, is also considering following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, who has decided to take a break for the entire month of February.

"I don't want to repeat the mistakes that I've made earlier when I was not 100 per cent, not even 50 per cent, and I went on the court and still tried," she said. "That didn't do no good to the tournament or to myself.

"Being healthy is the most important thing. If I'm healthy, I can produce good tennis, that's good to watch for the fans. When you go and you cannot play, I don't think the crowd can enjoy the match or something."

arizvi@thenational.ae