Williams out of Brisbane with ankle injury

Williams out of Brisbane with ankle injury

BRISBANE, Australia - The Associated Press
Williams out of Brisbane with ankle injury

Serena Williams falls to the ground in pain after picking up an injury right before serving for a match point against Bojana Jovanivski of Serbia at the Brisbane International tournament. REUTERS photo

Five-time champion Serena Williams is in doubt for the Australian Open after injuring her left ankle and withdrawing from the Brisbane International yesterday.

In her first tournament since losing the U.S. Open final in September, Williams was serving for the match with a 6-2, 5-3 lead against Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia when she twisted her ankle and crashed heavily to the court.

The 13-time Grand Slam winner lay near the baseline for several minutes while getting medical attention. She was helped to a courtside chair and had the ankle re-taped before resuming the second-round match and losing the next point to surrender a service break to Jovanovski.

Williams limped through the next game, wincing in pain after at least two points, before securing a 6-2, 6-4 win to advance to the Brisbane quarterfinals in her first trip Down Under since winning the 2010 Australian Open title.

She withdrew from the Brisbane tournament later Wednesday after having medical scans which “confirmed that I have a left ankle sprain (and) that I probably shouldn’t play on.” “I’m going to take a couple of days off - not too many - and see how I feel,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m still hopeful of playing the Australian Open.”

U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur was eliminated in the match on center court immediately before Williams went on.

To end a dramatic day after the top women’s drawcards exited in back-to-back matches, men’s top seed Andy Murray was only two points from defeat in the second set before he rallied to beat Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0 in the last night match to move into a quarterfinal against Marcos Baghdatis.

The other results were overshadowed by the injury to Williams, who hobbled into a post-match news conference with her ankle heavily strapped and initially said she was “anticipating it’ll be OK.” “I’m always thinking I can play on, but at the same time I don’t want to stress it out right now,” Williams said.

Her scheduled quarterfinal rival, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, advances directly to the semifinals.
The Australian Open starts on Jan. 16 in Melbourne. Williams missed the 2011 Australian Open while she was recovering from two operations on her foot and blood clots in her lungs that kept her sidelined for about a year after the 2010 Wimbledon tournament.

She won two tournaments heading into the U.S. Open in August but, after losing the final to Sam Stosur, Williams didn’t play another tournament last year due to injuries.

Williams said her first thought when she sprawled to the court near the baseline on Wednesday was “not again.” “That’s what I felt,” she said. “I was like, ‘No way.’” Williams usually wears a protective guard on her left ankle, but took it off during the second set because it was irritating another minor injury on her foot.

Stosur lost to Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-2 to extend her run of never advancing beyond the second round at her home tournament.

It was the 28-year-old Benesova’s fourth win over a top-10 player.

The No. 54-ranked Czech had never taken a set off Stosur in four previous matches but now finds herself in a quarterfinal match against Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters.

“Hopefully it was just a bad day and I will bounce back next week and the week after,” Stosur said of her Australian Open preparations. “I don’t want to dwell on it.

“It’s not the ideal start but I am not going to panic and think it’s all lost.” Also, sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia beat Nina Bratchikova of Russia 6-3, 6-2 and Kaia Kanepi of Estonia ousted seventh-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-0, 6-3.

On the men’s side, second-seeded Gilles Simon of France beat Australian teenager James Duckworth 6-3, 7-5, third-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine beat Igor Andreev of Russia 6-7 (3), 7-6 (9), 6-2, sixth-seeded Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic had a 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen of Finland and No. 8 Bernard Tomic of Australia trounced Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-1, 6-2.

Baghdatis of Cyprus beat fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 6-4.