MELBOURNE, Australia — Former Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka withdrawn from tuneup tournaments Saturday, two days before the year’s first tennis major begins at Melbourne Park.
No. 3-ranked Osaka pulled out of her Gippsland Trophy semifinal against Elise Mertens, citing a “niggling injury.”
Azarenka withdrew from the Grampians Trophy quarterfinal match against Anett Kontaveit with a lower back problem.
Serena Williams withdrew from the Yarra Valley Classic late Friday after qualifying for a semifinal against top-ranked Ash Barty.
All international players and staff have been through two weeks of quarantine. Organizers put on six tournaments this week at Melbourne Park to give players time to prepare for the Australian Open, which has been delayed three weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Open champion Osaka and Serena Williams, who is chasing a record 24th Grand Slam singles title, are on the same half of the draw at the Australian Open.
“Sorry to Tennis Australia and the fans to have to withdraw today,” Osaka said. “I have a niggling injury and in light of the (Australian Open) on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week.”
Her withdrawal gives Mertens a walkover into the final.
The withdrawals forced a reshuffle of the order of play on Margaret Court Arena. Former champion Angelique Kerber was moved up to meet fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari.
PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.
The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.
He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.
The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.
“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”
Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.
PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.
An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.
The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.
The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.
Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.
That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.
After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.
“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”