Brisbane: Murray rolls, Azarenka out

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 03, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 23: Victoria Azarenka of Belaru plays a forehand in her third round match against Tathiana Garbin of Italy during day six of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka withdrew from her Brisbane International against Serena Williams with an infected right big toe on Friday, citing concerns about aggravating the injury so close to the Australian Open. Azarenka made the announcement about a half hour before she was to play the third-ranked Williams, who has an 11-1 record against Azarenka and is on a roll after winning titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the U.S. Open. It came soon after Andy Murray, the Olympic men's gold medalist and U.S. Open champion, had finished off his 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the quarterfinals. Murray had lapses in his opening three-set win over No. 199-ranked Australian qualifier John Millman on Thursday night, while Ivan Lendl was en route to Australia, but had no serious trouble with his coach in the stands. The first of Murray's three titles in a breakthrough 2012 season was in Brisbane, where he started working with former No. 1-ranked Lendl last January. The next two titles were career-defining triumphs at the London Olympics and U.S. Open. Murray was satisfied with his serve - he didn't get broken in the match - and was starting to get over the usual aches and pains from coming off the end-of-season break. ''When you're practicing it's hard to replicate match situations ... and they're the things that take a while to get back into the rhythm of playing,'' he said, putting his relatively slow start in Brisbane down to a lack of match practice rather than a lack of condition and rejecting the suggestion he had been ''rusty.'' He next plays fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, a 6-4, 7-6 (3) winner over 2012 Brisbane finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov. The other semifinal will feature 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, who ousted No. 3 Gilles Simon of France 6-3, 6-4, against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who beat seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-3, 6-2. Murray didn't face a break point in the second set, and only lost one point in his first three service games of the set - a call he disputed but lost on the challenge review. He held serve to force a tiebreaker and trailed Istomin 3-1 before winning six straight points. Istomin served the only double-fault of the match to surrender triple match point and Murray hit a forehand winner to clinch it in little more than 1 1/2 hours. Murray dropped a set to Millman and appeared to be sore and fatigued at times on Thursday night, but there were no such issues in front of Lendl, who has played a key role in ending the Scottish player's run of four defeats in Grand Slam finals before he finally won a major. Lendl also lost four major finals before his claiming the first of his eight Grand Slam crowns. With her impressive finish to the 2012 season taking her major tally to 15, Williams is the most formidable player in women's tennis. She has won 34 of her last 35 matches since a first-round exit at the French Open and is in contention to return to the No. 1 ranking if she wins the Australian Open. After Azarenka's withdrawal, she advanced directly to a final against the winner of Friday's semifinal between Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko. Azarenka said she'd picked up an infection after a pedicure last week and had to have part of the nail on the big toe of her right foot removed. She was planning to head to Melbourne and hoping it would only take two days before she can continue preparing for the season's first major. ''I tried everything. We tried medication with taping, and I was playing through the pain for quite a while,'' said Azarenka, who won the Sydney International and the Australian Open last year during a 26-match winning streak to start the season. ''It's just something that I had to do to make sure that I can be fully recovered and ready for Australian Open. It's that sort kind of compromise I had to take. ''It's just very unfortunate timing, because I was really looking forward to playing and excited.'' Williams could empathize with Azarenka. ''I like Vika. I think she's a great player. I love playing her,'' Williams said. ''I had that toe problem just a couple weeks ago and it's painful ... it's so painful. Doesn't sound painful, but it is. You can't walk with that. I hope she gets better fast.''
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Is Serena Williams the most important modern athlete?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brandon Marshall responds to Sheldon Richardson calling him out

Julius Thomas says he’s a ‘better person’ after down years in Jacksonville

Josh Norman not impressed by Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant

Report: Kaepernick ‘wants to be a Seahawk,’ content to be backup

Did Ben McAdoo take subtle shot at Odell Beckham Jr.?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

NFL players will still be penalized for dunking on goal posts

Rob Gronkowski a ‘full go’ in practice

LeBron James on closeout games: ‘Always the hardest’

Former NFL RB Michael Bennett sentenced to five years in prison

Kirk Cousins on contract talks: ‘Deadlines do deals’

Ed Reed says the NFL needs to do more for retired players

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

It’s our civic duty to stop attending Super Bowls in new stadiums

Box Score 5/25: The Cavaliers look to close out the Celtics

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Tennis News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker