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Azarenka heads list of injury withdrawals

Victoria Azarenka recovers after fall on No.1 Court.
by Matt Trollope
Wednesday 26 June 2013

Victoria Azarenka, the women's No.2 seed, has withdrawn from the 2013 Wimbledon Championships with a knee injury.

On an extraordinary day, a host of players pulled out of The Championships, including Rafael Nadal's conqueror, Steve Darcis. Also bowing out were John Isner, Radek Stepanek and the men's No.10 seed Marin Cilic.

Darcis did not even make it onto court to play his second-round match against Lukasz Kubot because of a shoulder injury.

The Belgian said he had hurt his right shoulder when he fell during the first set against Nadal on Monday.

The 29-year-old posted on Twitter: "Had to withdrawn after a win like this!?THE most difficult thing i had to do!!!#triedeverythingtoplaybutdidntwork!!!!"

John Isner, who tweaked his left knee in the opening game against France's Adrian Mannarino, could only complete one more game before retiring with the score 1-1.

Scarcely believably, within minutes Radek Stepanek realised he would not be able to shake off a thigh problem and retired against Jerzy Janowicz while trailing 6-2, 5-3.

Azarenka had been scheduled to face Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the first match of the day on Centre Court.

Azarenka, who has reached the semi-finals in her past two visits to Wimbledon, fell awkwardly early in the second set of her first round match against Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal.

Despite screaming in pain and then requiring heavy strapping, Azarenka hobbled to a 6-1 6-2 victory.

But it proved too much to recover from in time to play on Wednesday, handing Pennetta a free pass into the third round where she will meet Alize Cornet of France.

“It's kind of a bone bruise. I'm sorry, I'm just not sure of the medical term,'' Azarenka said. ''The tendon and the ligament was not hurt, which as I said was a positive news. But the rest, no.

“We tried to do everything as possible, but it was just very significant fall. To recover in two days after that seems impossible.

“Wimbledon is just a tournament I was looking so forward to. I love playing here. To not be able to kind of play just because of something with such a bad luck is very, very frustrating. I couldn't be more disappointed.”

The women's second round match between No.12 seed Ana Ivanovic and Eugenie Bouchard has been moved to Centre Court in place of Azarenka-Pennetta.

Isner started his match against Adrian Mannarino looking in prime form, winning the opening game in less than a minute.

But on the changeover, he began to clutch his left knee and walk more gingerly. Minutes later, after a medical timeout, the man who won the longest match in tennis history (70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in the 2010 Wimbledon first round) retired after one of the shortest.

With Isner gone, only four American men remain in the draw.

Cilic took the total to five when he was forced to withdraw with an injury to his left knee. The Croatian had been due to play Kenny de Schepper.

Cilic, runner-up to Andy Murray at Queen's, said: "I started to have difficulties with my knees during Queen's. During last week I was feeling it already in practice. Then on Sunday I felt it really bad in my serve."
 
Although he beat Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets on Monday, Cilic said: "Yesterday It felt it much, much worse. It was difficult for me to put weight on left leg which is where the pain is."

Asked if there was "something about the slipperiness of the grass at Wimbledon", he said: "I just consider my own case. It's obviously because of much lower bounces, putting more pressure on my body and knees as I'm pretty tall. It's a bit tougher to move on grass than other surfaces."

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