Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka pulled out from tuneup tournaments only days before the Australian Open is set to start in Melbourne Park.
Williams on Friday pulled out of her elimination round match against highest level Ash Barty at the Yarra Valley Classic, refering to a correct shoulder injury.
“I feel pretty good,” Williams said Saturday. “I’ve gotten a lot of treatment already on my shoulder. But I’m super confident it’s going to be great. I’m feeling very confident, I think is a better word, and getting ready for hopefully the next two weeks.”
“It’s definitely something that I’m going to have to deal with for the fortnight,” she added. “Kind of knowing that going into a tournament definitely helps. Also knowing, okay, I’m going to have to probably pick up some different therapy exercises after each match. It’s going to be really important.”
No. 3-positioned Osaka pulled out of her Gippsland Trophy elimination round against Elise Mertens, refering to a “niggling injury.” Azarenka pulled out from the Grampians Trophy quarterfinal coordinate against Anett Kontaveit with a lower back issue.
Williams generally doesn’t play in a competition in the week prior to a Grand Slam occasion, yet she made an exemption before a year ago’s US Open and for this Australian Open in light of the relative multitude of interruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 39-year-old American was playing her first tournament since pulling out from the French Open before her second-round match as a result of an Achilles ligament injury in October. She, similar to all players going to Australia for the competition, needed to quarantine for 14 days and had restricted work on during that time.
With the year’s first major scheduled to begin Monday, Williams may be in an ideal situation resting. She and Osaka are set to play on a similar portion of the draw at the Australian Open.
“Sorry to Tennis Australia and the fans to have to withdraw today,” Osaka said. “I have a niggling injury and in light of the [Australian Open] on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week.”
Osaka’s withdrawal gives Mertens a walkover into the last.
Williams had three successes at the Yarra Valley Classic – one of six competitions at Melbourne Park this week – finishing with a 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 dominate in a game sudden death round over Danielle Collins on Friday.
The withdrawal came after her postmatch news conference – when she made no reference to any issues – so no full clarification was advertised.
It implies Barty gets a walkover into the last and will likewise get some rest Saturday.
There were 70 matches on the request for play Friday, an extended program a day after all matches in six tournaments were deferred with the goal that 160 players and 507 individuals by and large could detach and go through testing in light of the fact that a specialist at an isolate lodging restored a positive test. Tennis Australia said all tests were negative.
To speed things up a little at the back finish of the competition, 17 courts were being utilized and ladies’ matches were diminished to two standard sets with a 10-point coordinate sudden death round whenever required.
Williams and Barty both needed to play the match sudden death round – Barty beat Shelby Rogers 7-5, 2-6, 10-4.
Prior to pulling out, Williams said she was anticipating the elimination rounds.
“It’s definitely a good opportunity to see where I’m going against the current No. 1, that’s really important for me,” Williams said. “Obviously, I think for her, as well, to see where she’s going against my game.
“It’s been a long 12 months. Tennis has been played but not really, so … hopefully this is like a new year where things will be different.”
Garbine Muguruza beat defending Australian Open victor Sofia Kenin 6-2, 6-2 to progress to the elimination rounds, switching their consequence of their 2020 last at Melbourne Park. She will next play No. 8 Marketa Vondrousova.