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Serena Williams withdraws from Australian Open

Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from this month’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

The 36-year-old American last week played her first match since giving birth in September.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner and the reigning Australian Open champion, said: “Although I am super close, I’m not where I want to be.”

On Thursday, Britain’s Andy Murray pulled out of the tournament, which starts on 15 January.

Williams was eight weeks pregnant with daughter Olympia when she won her seventh Australian Open title in 2017.

The world number 22 said: “My coach and team always said ‘only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way’.

“I can compete – but I don’t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time.

“The memory of last year’s Open is one that I will carry with me, and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: “I’ve been in constant contact with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and pushed it until the 11th hour to make her final decision.

“Serena transcends the sport in the way she approaches all aspects of her life. It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete.”

Williams lost an exhibition contest against Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi on 30 December 2017, in her first match since giving birth in September.

It is the first time since 2011 that Williams has missed the tournament.

On Thursday, men’s world number four Kei Nishikori withdrew because of a wrist injury.

There are also doubts over the fitness of Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal and Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, who won the title in 2014.

Serb Novak Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion, may also miss out with an elbow injury.

Source: BBC

Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic to reach Madrid Open final

Four-time champion Rafael Nadal ended a three-year, seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic to reach the final of the Madrid Open.

The Spaniard, 30, won 6-2 6-4 to claim his first victory over the Serb since the 2014 French Open final. Nadal improved his record on clay this year to 14-0 and will face Austrian Dominic Thiem or Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in Sunday’s final.

Kristina Mladenovic plays Simona Halep in Saturday’s women’s final. Nadal confirmed his return to form with a long-awaited win over Djokovic, his 24th in 50 career meetings. “It is a great result,” he said.

To win against Novak by that score you have to be playing very well, otherwise it’s impossible. “It was an important match for me. I lost a lot of times in a row. To break that means there are always nerves. “The circumstances nowadays are completely different compared to those seven matches that occurred before. “I think that the last two years perhaps haven’t been my best two years.

For Novak, they were really good years.” Djokovic, playing his first tournament since splitting with his long-time coaching team, won just four points in the opening four games as he fell 4-0 down to a rejuvenated Nadal.

There were more positive signs for the Serb in the second set as he recovered an early break of serve, punching his fist in delight, but Nadal would quickly re-establish the advantage. The Spaniard came through a tense final game, fending off a break point before converting his third match point and closing on a fifth Madrid title.

He deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “It wasn’t a very high quality of tennis from my side. I made a lot of unforced errors. “His quality was very high. He managed to do whatever he wanted really, especially in the first set.

Source:

BBC

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