Serena Williams (R) of the US and Danielle Collins of the US touch the rackets after their Yara Valley — Afp
MELBOURNE (Reuters): Serena Williams withdrew from the Yarra Valley Classic semi-finals on Friday due to a shoulder injury, just days before the American begins her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Williams had advanced to a mouth-watering semi-final clash against world number one Ash Barty after getting past Danielle Collins 6-2 4-6 (10-6) and while she showed no sign of discomfort the WTA Tour later said the 39-year-old was pulling out with a right shoulder injury.
Barty had also needed a super tiebreaker to beat Shelby Rogers 7-5 2-6 (10-4) in her quarter-final.
Super tiebreakers are being played after two sets in all WTA matches as organisers look to clear a backlog caused by Thursday’s suspension of play after a worker at one of the Melbourne quarantine hotels contracted COVID-19. In the other half of the Yarra Valley draw, Garbine Muguruza dumped Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin out of the tournament 6-2 6-2 in a re-match of last year’s Grand Slam final at Melbourne Park.
Muguruza will next play Marketa Vondrousova after the Czech took down Nadia Podoroska 4-6 6-3 (10-4).
At the Gippsland Trophy, world number two Simona Halep suffered a surprise 6-2 6-1 defeat to Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka advanced at the Grampians Trophy with a 6-4 1-6 (11-9) win over Yulia Putintseva but top seed Belinda Bencic fell 7-5 6-2 to Sorana Cirstea.
American Williams never looked in any real danger of following Kenin through the exit door despite a tricky tie against her compatriot, the 39-year-old ramping up her serve when it mattered to get the job done.
Two-time Grand Slam winner Halep made a brisk start to go up 2-0 against Alexandrova but the Russian then reeled off nine straight games as the frustrated top seed moved gingerly on court. She also put a heat pack on her lower back towards the close of the first set.
Ninth seed Alexandrova will next face Kaia Kanepi, who advanced after her quarter-final opponent Karolina Muchova withdrew from Friday’s match due to an abdominal injury.
World number three Naomi Osaka eased past Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 7-5 6-1 to set up a semi-final matchup against seventh seed Elise Mertens, who ousted third seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 5-7 (10-6) in the last quarter-final.