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Tennis: Former Open champ withdraws with knee injury

Last year’s Western and Southern Open champ Victoria Azarenka announced this morning that she has withdrawn from defending her title after suffering a knee right knee injury.

Azarenka has battled injuries all year as her WTA ranking has dropped to No. 10 heading into the Western and Southern Open. Azarenka sat out of the French Open in June with a foot injury.

She opted to play at Wimbledon but struggled failing to get out of the round of 64.

Azarenka said she expects to be ready for the US Open later this month.

“I’m going to get more treatment and get more work done and should be good for the US Open,” she said. “But I had to make this decision. I feel strongly that it’s the best for me at this moment.”

Azarenka came to courts north of Cincinnati trying to give it a go after playing in last week’s Rogers Cup in Montreal. She practiced early this morning but opted to sit out the tournament after trying to play.

“I wanted to give it my best shot until the last moment and try to do the best job as possible,” she said. “I tried to hit today in the morning and it wasn’t feeling good enough.”

Last week in Montreal, she won her first two matches before losing to fifth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Last week was the first time since January’s Australian Open that she won two matches or made a quarterfinal.

Azarenka said that she had an idea she would need to withdraw after losing to Radwanska last week.

“I tried to recover as much as possible,” Azarenka said. “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 worth with my team.”

Azarenka’s spot was taken by Mona Barthel who had lost in a qualifier Sunday.

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