x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Walking wounded healing up for Australian Open

A number of the top players are carrying injuries going into the opening grand slam event of the season.

Caroline Wozniacki, the women's world No 1, receives treatment for her wrist injury.
Caroline Wozniacki, the women's world No 1, receives treatment for her wrist injury.

MELBOURNE // The all-star cast of injured players continue to improve heading into the Australian Open, with Rafael Nadal, Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams and the defending champion Kim Clijsters all reporting progress with their respective knocks.

Nadal has had a sore left shoulder, Wozniacki an inflamed left wrist, Williams a sprained left ankle and Clijsters left hip spasms.

Nadal, the Spanish left-hander, has played through the injury since it cropped up late last season, while Wozniacki required treatment during the deciding set of her quarter-final loss at the Sydney International on Wednesday.

Serena pulled out of the Brisbane International last week after twisting her ankle while winning a second-round match, and Clijsters retired from her semi-final.

Yesterday, WTA spokesman Eloise Tyson said Wozniacki had an MRI exam on her wrist that "showed no major damage".

"It's inflamed, and she will continue to have it monitored and it's hopeful she will play the Australian Open," Tyson said.

Serena said "the ankle is better" during a promotional appearance yesterday.

"It's not 100 per cent, but it's better than it was last week," she said. "I feel great. And I feel like I'm really fit. And I feel like this is definitely some of the fittest I have been in my career."

Nadal said: "My shoulder is good. I'll try to do my best."

Clijsters had a scan on her hip, which showed she had not suffered a muscle tear. Yesterday, she trained freely at Melbourne Park and looked to be in strong shape to defend her title.

On Wednesday, Andrea Petkovic withdrew from the Open with a stress fracture in her lower back that could keep her sidelined for two months. The 24-year-old German was seeded 10th.

Roger Federer, the four-time Australian Open champion, pulled out of the Qatar Open last week with a sore back, but has been training in Melbourne without any apparent issues over the past five days.

Maria Sharapova withdrew before the Brisbane tournament with an injured ankle, but has been training in Melbourne ahead of the Monday start of the tournament.

Venus Williams, the elder of the Williams sisters, pulled out of the Australian Open on Monday, prolonging her absence from the WTA tour because of an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.

* Associated Press