The Cincinnati Masters suffered two big blows last night in the women’s field with both Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova withdrawing.
Venus, who had won her first round match, was scheduled to play the night session against 2014 finalist Ana Ivanovic before the 35-year-old abruptly pulled out due to a viral illness.
“I”m definitely going to rest,” Venus said. “I definitely want to go home to Florida, but it’s just something I’ve got to do and get ready for the Open. I definitely would have liked to have more matches going in, but I have to use my experience now.”
Sharapova remains sidelined with a right leg injury. The same injury that forced her out of Canada and she didn’t want to risk anything so close to the US Open.
“I just didn’t have enough time, really. I’ve been practicing here the last few days and I’m looking at the US Open in 11, 12 days,” Sharapova said. “It’s a tough decision to make, but I think a wise one in order to give myself the right amount of time to be as healthy as I can be for the Open, which I believe is very realistic, but I don’t know if it would be realistic if I started playing tomorrow.”
Sharapova thinks she’ll be fine.
“I think just a few rest days,” she said. “Quite honestly, I didn’t give myself a lot of rest days. I just took it easier than I did, because I thought with a little bit of time and downtime and not a lot of movement it would get better. I was still training through it pretty much, and not doing a lot of intervals and getting in shape, so I think I just have to cut that down a little bit in the next few days.”
While two stars withdrew, many did play. Canadian champion Belinda Bencic kept on her roll beating world No. 11 Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3.
“Last week was very mental – I’m so happy I was so mentally tough there,” Bencic said. “I had a lot of nerves against Serena in the semifinals, and I’m really happy I could close it out. It’s just amazing for me, everything that’s happened, and I’m really proud that I managed to win there.
“You get confidence when you keep winning, and especially when you’re playing and winning on the big courts against the big players, so hopefully I can just keep going like this.”
2013 champ Victoria Azarenka beat American qualifier Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-2. Sloane Stephens advanced over Carla Suarez Navarro and even Eugenie Bouchard was victorious, picking up her first win of the summer over qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6, 7-6.
In the big upset of the day, qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova sent off Agnieszka Radwanska
4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Defending champion Serena Williams is in action this afternoon against former Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova. In the evening, Caroline Wozniacki battles Azarenka.
“There are no surprises – we’ve known each other since the juniors, way before we started playing on the tour – but every match is really a different story and I have to be ready,” said Azarenka who leads Wozniacki 6-4.
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