Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka pull out Australian Open warm-ups with injury

World number three Naomi Osaka and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the Australian Open warm-up tournaments on Saturday.

The US Open champion and 2019 Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka of Japan was set to play Elise Mertens in the Gippsland Trophy semi-final but withdrew.

Osaka looked in fine form as she defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-1 in a 76-minute match on Friday night.

“Sorry to Tennis Australia and the fans to have to withdraw today,” she said on the WTA’s Twitter account. “I have a niggling injury and in light of the AO on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week.”

Osaka joined Williams with a late withdrawal after the American pulled out of her semi-final clash against world number one Ashleigh Barty with a shoulder injury on Friday.

On the other hand, two-time major winner Azarenka also had a casualty on Saturday and opted not to play her quarter-final clash against Anett Kontaveit at the Grampians Trophy due to a lower-back injury.

While Williams and Osaka’s withdrawal were precautionary, there might be more concern over Simona Halep’s fitness.

The world number two was defeated by Alexandrova 6-2, 6-1 in the Gippsland Trophy quarter-finals, where she appeared hampered by her lower-back injury.

Halep put on a back brace after calling for medical attention after the first set, in a one-sided contest lasting just for an hour.

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