Back injury sidelines Venus Williams at Key Biscayne

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — A big match beckoned for Venus Williams on a court where she first hoisted the championship trophy 15 years ago.

Alas, on Saturday she wasn't up to any heavy lifting.

The three-time Key Biscayne champion withdrew from the Sony Open because of a lower back injury shortly before her third-round match against fellow American Sloane Stephens.

Williams, seeded 19th, was extended to three sets in the second round Thursday against Kimiko Date-Krumm. She said her back began to bother her Friday, and she decided after warming up that she couldn't play.

"It's really disappointing," she said. "But I have faced disappointments in my life and my career. It's not the first; probably not the last."

The cancellation cost the tournament the day's most appealing match, pitting a rising star against a seven-time Grand Slam champion. The 20-year-old Stephens upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open and is ranked a career-best 16th.

"I'm a little bummed, but I guess a win is a win," Stephens said. "On to the next round."

She'll play defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska on Monday, and could face a rematch against Serena Williams in the semifinals. Five-time champion Serena won her third-round match, overcoming a 3-love deficit in the first set to beat Ayumi Morita 6-3, 6-3.

Williams' injury was the second in two days to sideline a former Key Biscayne champion. Two-time winner Victoria Azarenka withdrew before her opening match Friday because of a right ankle injury.

On a sunny, humid afternoon, Sam Querrey won in his first match as the top-ranked American, rallying past Lukasz Kubot 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The 20th-ranked Querrey this week moved ahead of No. 23 John Isner, who hit 25 aces and beat Ivan Dodig, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5).

Isner has won his past five winner-take-all third-set tiebreakers.

Second-seeded Andy Murray needed only 56 minutes to beat Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-1. The absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal helps Murray's chances in the tournament, which he won in 2009.

Radwanska, seeded fourth, lost serve seven times and needed nearly 21/2; hours to beat Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-3. No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki lost to wild card Garbine Muguruza of Spain, 6-2, 6-4.


Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK