ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Belgian tennis player Kirsten Flipkens injured her ankle when she landed on an advertising board during a match against Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open on Friday and had to retire.
Flipkens won the first set 7-5 and was trailing 5-4 in the second when she jumped to play a shot and landed on the advertising board behind the baseline. Her left ankle twisted underneath her.
“I obviously got a little bit upset, quite emotional. We’re good friends and that’s not something you like to see. I just hope she has a speedy recovery and gets ready for Australia,” Kenin said. “This is not the way I wanted to win.”
Kenin said she had wanted to cross to Flipkens’ side of the court to help her, but couldn’t because of social distancing rules limiting contact between players during the coronavirus pandemic.
The board which Flipkens tripped over was positioned between the baseline and a line judge’s chair. Flipkens backtracked and jumped to play a lobbed shot from Kenin and fell backwards over the board into the chair before clutching her ankle in pain.
Kenin said the advertising board was too close to the court.
“I think maybe not to get rid of it but just to push it a little bit more back,” Kenin said. “This is just like an unfortunate incident that happens.”
Flipkens broke Kenin’s serve five times in the first set, including breaking the American to love in consecutive service games to take the first set after Kenin had served for the set with a 5-4 lead.
Kenin will next play 13th-seeded Yulia Putintseva. The Kazakhstani player beat Barbora Krejcikova 6-4, 7-5.
Also, fourth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka beat Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-4 to reach the third round. She will next face Australian Open quarterfinalist Ons Jabeur, who beat Kateryna Bondarenko 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.