Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the Brisbane International tennis tournament with an injured big toe on her right foot, 10 days before the start of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Azarenka pulled out prior to her semifinal meeting with Serena Williams of the U.S. The 23-year-old from Belarus, ranked No. 1 by the women’s tour, captured her first major title in Australia last year.
“Victoria has been nursing this injury for the past 10 days and it has continued to deteriorate to a point where she is unable to take to the court tonight,” Cameron Pearson, Brisbane International tournament director, said in a statement. “We wish her all the best with her recovery and we hope to see her in Melbourne to defend her Australian Open title.”
Azarenka is the second high-ranked player to withdraw in Brisbane, after No. 2 Maria Sharapova pulled out with a collarbone injury Jan. 1. Williams will meet Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, in tomorrow’s final.
The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, begins Jan. 14 in Melbourne.