Top-ranked Azarenka pulls out of WTA Dubai

Top-ranked Azarenka pulls out of WTA Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The Associated Press
Top-ranked Azarenka pulls out of WTA Dubai

Victoria Azarenka’s successful start to the season was disrupted when she was forced to withdraw from WTA Dubai. REUTERS photo

Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the Dubai Tennis Championships yesterday because of a left ankle injury.

The 22-year-old Azarenka said she will rest for two or three days, hoping the ankle will heal. The Belarusian, who has won 17 straight matches so far this season, said she’ll take a break from tennis and go home to spend some time with her family.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing, but, I mean, it’s life. It’s sport. I just have to take care of it and that’s it,” Azarenka said. “I take a couple of days off to see and hopefully it will settle down for as long that I don’t need to take a scan.

“But I just need to have my peace of mind and probably will still do the same just to make sure there is nothing really serious. But it has to be taken care of right away.”

The 22-year-old Azarenka was the top top-seeded player at the Dubai tournament and was scheduled to play her opening match against Julia Goerges of Germany.

The Australia Open champion injured her left ankle during last week’s semifinal match at the Qatar Open. However, she shook off the injury to win the Qatar Open last week, beating Sam Stosur 6-1, 6-2.

It was the Belarus star’s 17th straight victory and her first title since replacing Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the rankings after winning in Melbourne.

The Doha victory was Azarenka’s third title of 2012.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, French Open winner Li Na and Vera Zvonareva have also pulled out the Dubai tournament because of injury and illness.

A packed tennis schedule and tough competition could be partly to blame for so many injuries among the players, Azarenka said.

“For me, obviously I played so much, and it was an unfortunate situation what happened in Doha,” Azarenka said. “But I mean, it’s just the game became so physical. Sometimes it’s really tough on the body week after week to play. These tournaments with such a tough field, it takes a lot out of you physically.”