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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wozniacki defeats Azarenka; Safina out of Doha







DOHA, Qatar (AP)—Dinara Safina withdrew from WTA Sony Ericsson Championships because of a back injury Wednesday, handing the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams.
Safina said the bone structure in her lower back is “starting to fracture” and that the injury has been bothering her for three months. She said doctors told her she will be sidelined for at least six weeks, and she may not be ready for the Australian Open in January.
The Russian said she took anti-inflammatory injections to try to defend her No. 1 ranking in Doha.
“I went yesterday to have injections, cortisone,” she said. “But I just couldn’t handle this pain.” Safina was serving at 1-1 in the first set against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia when she stopped play, walked over to her chair and covered her face with a towel. She then told the chair umpire she could not continue.
Doha is the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. Safina now faces a tough task in the offseason to be fit in time for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of 2010.
“When I speak with the doctors, it doesn’t sound so good,” Safina said. “It is possible I may have to skip it.”
Safina regained the top ranking this week, but her margin over Williams is so slim that the player who performed best in Doha was guaranteed to end the year as No. 1.
Williams won her first match Tuesday and played her sister Venus later Wednesday.
The tournament features a round-robin stage with four players in each group, before the semifinals.
Earlier Wednesday, Caroline Wozniacki saved a match point in the final set and beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Azarenka was up a break four times in the third set but failed to put the match away, letting the 19-year-old Dane break back each time.
Wozniacki, who had just two winners in the first set, saved a match point with Azarenka leading 5-4 in the third before finally holding serve for the first time in the decider.
“I just felt like I hadn’t lost the match yet,” Wozniacki said. “She still had to win one more point.”
Wozniacki broke again for 6-5 after the Belarusian was docked a point for smashing her racket. Azarenka had already been warned in that game after hitting the ball out of the court following another unforced error.
Wozniacki sealed the win with a service winner after 2 hours, 58 minutes.
It was the 19-year-old Dane’s first match in the tournament, while Azarenka defeated Jankovic in her opener.
Each group stage win is worth $100,000, with the eventual winner taking home up to $1.55 million.
Wozniacki seemed bothered by the sore hamstring that forced her to retire from her first-round match at the Luxembourg Open last week. She wore tape around her left thigh, icing it during changeovers and stretching repeatedly between points.
“The strapping definitely helped,” she said. “You try not to think about it too much, especially in the important moments. … It’s not great for the leg, running this much.”
Wozniacki reached the finals of the U.S. Open in September before losing to Kim Cljisters.

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