World number three Victoria Azarenka withdrew with a right ankle injury while Spanish men’s third-seed David Ferrer advanced after a walkover at the WTA and ATP Masters Miami hard court event.
Reigning Australian Open champion Azarenka complained of ankle pain after a 6-3, 6-1 fourth-round victory over Urszula Radwanska in the Indian Wells quarter-finals last week before withdrawing.
“The last two days I tried to practice, which did not get better so it just gives me a very obvious indication that it’s not possible for me to play,” said Azarenka.
“It was really obvious what the decision was couple days ago already. I just wanted to give my 100 per cent possibility to play and today was my last test.”
Azarenka, who like all Miami seeds received a first-round bye, is unbeaten on court this year, a 17-0 run that includes the Australian Open and a title in Doha.
But she has twice surrendered matches by walkover, the first in January at a Brisbane semi-final against Serena Williams with an infected right toe that resulted from a pedicure.
“I feel like I’m in a good tennis shape, not physical shape right now,” she stated. “Even though I didn’t feel very good physically, I played well in Indian Wells and still won three matches pretty good.
“Today I went on the court and I got more pain. I cannot really move. It makes me very frustrated.”
On the other hand, Ferrer moved into the third round of the $8.5 million tournament when Russian opponent Dmitry Turnsunov withdrew with a stomach bug.
Djokovic, Sharapova cruise into third round
World number one Novak Djokovic raced into the third round, with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Czech Lukas Rosol.
The top-seeded Serbian, seeking to rebound from a semi-final exit at Indian Wells last week that ended his 22-match winning streak, needed just 53 minutes to advance.
Meanwhile, on a day when rain left plenty of players waiting around Maria Sharapova did not waste any time in a 6-2, 6-0 second-round victory over Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.
Sharapova, seeded third even though her triumph at Indian Wells last weekend saw her jump from third to second in the world rankings, needed less than an hour to subdue the 19-year-old wild card.
Even a brief power outage that halted the match as the floodlights went out barely slowed her.
“In the end, however, it was just a small hurdle on a day when a three-hour rain delay had matches backing up,” said Sharapova of the outage that plunged the court into darkness.
Sharapova next faces Russian Elena Vesnina, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Croatian Donna Vekic.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2013.