World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka suffered a blow to her French Open preparations
when she was forced to pull out of the Italian Open with a right shoulder injury
late Wednesday night shortly after thrashing Israel’s Shahar Pe’er to reach the
Azarenka had shown no sign of discomfort when she walloped
Pe’er 6-1, 6-2, but the WTA announced her withdrawal shortly after the victory
to the surprise of everyone in the Foro Italico.
With just nine days
until the start of the French Open, the Belarusian will hope for a quick
recovery ahead of her bid for a second straight Grand Slam
Azarenka’s withdrawal handed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia a free
ticket to the last eight, surely frustrating Pe’er, who must have been thinking
to herself why couldn’t the No. 1 seed withdraw slightly earlier and gift the
Israeli a third-round berth instead.
Pe’er has now failed to progress
past the second round in eight consecutive tournaments.