Azarenka withdraws from Serena showdown
Victoria Azarenka's Australian Open preparations have been dealt a blow with the news she has been forced to pull out of her Brisbane International semi-final against Serena Williams due to injury.
The world No. 1 had looked in imperious form in Brisbane, but 30 minutes before she was due to take on Williams she announced her withdrawal.
"Victoria has been nursing this injury for the past 10 days and it has continued to deteriorate to a point where she is unable to take to the court tonight," tournament director Cameron Pearson said.
"We wish her all the best with her recovery and we hope to see her in Melbourne to defend her Australian Open title."
Azarenka will now focus on her preparations for the Australian Open, which begins on January 14, as she will not play another competitive game before Melbourne. Asked about being fully fit for the defence of her crown, Azarenka said: "I am not concerned about that."
Williams will now meet Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was a 4-6 6-1 6-2 winner over Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.
Elsewhere, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska will face Yanina Wickmayer in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland. Radwanska was given a stern examination by American Jamie Hampton in her semi-final, but won the crucial points in a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) victory. Third seed Wickmayer, meanwhile, needed three sets to see off the challenge of eighth seed Mona Barthel, 6-4 1-6 7-6(3).
And at the Shenzhen Open, top seed Li Na will face Klara Zakopalova in the final after both ladies completed straight sets victories over Peng Shuai and Monica Niculescu respectively.