Serena Williams pulls out of semis because of shoulder harm

MELBOURNE, February 5

Serena Williams withdrew from the Yarra Valley Classic semifinals today due to a shoulder injury, just days before the American begins her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Williams had advanced to a mouth-watering semifinal clash against world No. 1 Ash Barty after getting past Danielle Collins 6-2 4-6 (10-6) and while she showed no sign of discomfort the WTA Tour later said the 39-year-old was pulling out with a right shoulder injury.

Barty had also needed a super tiebreaker to beat Shelby Rogers 7-5 2-6 (10-4) in her quarterfinal.

Super tiebreakers are being played after two sets in all WTA matches as organisers look to clear a backlog caused by Thursday’s suspension of play after a worker at one of the Melbourne quarantine hotels contracted Covid-19.

Garbine Muguruza beat Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-2 6-2.

Halep loses

At the Gippsland Trophy, world No. 3 Simona Halep suffered a surprise 6-2 6-1 defeat to Ekaterina Alexandrova. Victoria Azarenka advanced at the Grampians Trophy with a 6-4 1-6 (11-9) win over Yulia Putintseva but top seed Belinda Bencic fell 7-5 6-2 to Sorana Cirstea. — Reuters

Germany end Serbia’s ATP Cup defence

MELBOURNE: Alexander Zverev shrugged off a tight loss to Novak Djokovic to end Serbia’s ATP Cup title defence with victory in the doubles as Germany advanced to the semifinals of the team-based event today. Germany will meet Russia in the last-four, while Spain will take on Italy. Zverev, beaten 6-7(3) 6-2 7-5 in a high-quality match by world No. 1 Djokovic earlier today, stepped up to partner Jan-Lennard Struff to a rousing 7-6(4) 5-7 (10-7) victory over Djokovic and Nikola Cacic on Rod Laver Arena. Struff beat Dusan Lajovic 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the opening singles rubber. Reuters

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