Osaka, Azarenka Withdraw From Melbourne Lead-Ups, No Final At Grampians
by Staff | February 6th, 2021, 2:05 pm
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With the short turnaround between the lead-up events and the Australian Open, top players have pulled the plug on playing this weekend.

Saturday in Melbourne saw two former Australian Open champions — Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka — join Serena Williams, who withdrew on Friday, on the sidelines.

Osaka was to play former Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens in the Gippsland trophy but the Japanese star opted out of her semifinal.

“Sorry to Tennis Australia and the fans to have to withdraw today. I have a niggling injury and in light of the AO on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week,” Osaka said.

Osaka will take her 14-match win streak into the the first Slam of the season for her first match Monday.

Mertens moves into the final against Kaia Kanepi who improved her win streak to 14 which includes ITF events. Kanepi reached her first WTA final since 2013 Brussels after beating Ekatarina Alexandrova 6-3, 7-6(6).

“I didn’t expect to be in the final, I just expected to play good every match I play,” Kanepi said.

At the Yarra Valley Classic, World No. 1 Ash Barty had a day off (thanks to Serena’s withdrawal) while Garbine Muguruza had a light hit destroying Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-0. The 2020 Australian Open finalist has surrendered just 10 games in her four matches this week including a win over Sofia Kenin.

“I’m very happy for sure. I think I played well today,” Muguruza said told the crowd.

“My serve was working in the right moments and I felt like, since the beginning of the match, I could take control of the points.”

Barty leads the Spaniard 2-1 with all three matches going three sets.

“It’s always good to play the top players, especially the No.1 right now,” Muguruza said. “We’ve had tough matches, so I’m expecting another battle.”

At the Grampians Trophy, held for hard quarantine players. Officials have decided not to hold the finals, which would have required semifinal winners to double up today.

In the semifinals, Jen Brady will battle Anne Li and Maria Sakkari faces Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit advanced after 2-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka withdrew from her quarterfinal.

Sakarri ended the hopes of another former Australian champion Angelique Kerber.

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