Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion of the Western & Southern Open, has withdrawn with a right knee injury. She will be replaced in the draw by lucky loser Mona Barthel, who will play today against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and has moved to second on Court 9. The Sara Errani – Yanina Wickmayer match has moved to second on Grandstand.
Below is a brief interview with Azarenka:
QUESTION: When did you decide to pull out?
AZARENKA: Well after my last match in Montreal, which was definitely a very hard fought game to play, I tried to recover as much as possible. I started to feel a little bit better and did everything I could, but it’s just not enough time for me to feel good to play a full match. I tried to practice, give it a rest and work with my team. It’s just not enough time.
QUESTION: Did you try to practice this morning?
AZARENKA: Yeah, I wanted to give it my best shot until the last moment and try to do the best job as possible. I tried to hit today in the morning and it wasn’t feeling good enough.
QUESTION: Is it tough to walk away as defending champion?
AZARENKA: Definitely. It’s a great tournament. I really enjoy my time here. I’m really grateful for the people who come out and unfortunately I won’t be playing this year. But I will definitely be back for many more years. This is probably the biggest disappointment, to not be able to play in front of this amazing crowd. This tournament has done an incredible job in making improvements, so it’s unfortunate but it’s the best decision for me.
QUESTION: The US Open is coming up. What are your thoughts on the next couple weeks?
AZARENKA: I’m going to get more treatment and get more work done and should be good for the US Open. But I had to make this decision. I feel strongly that it’s the best for me at this moment.