MELBOURNE (REUTERS, AFP) - Serena Williams pulled out of the Yarra Valley Classic on Friday (Feb 5) with a right shoulder injury, few hours after her quarter-final victory in the Australian Open tune-up event.
Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, had set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against world No. 1 Australian Ashleigh Barty after defeating fellow American Danielle Collins 6-2, 4-6 (10-6) on Margaret Court Arena.
"Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Yarra Valley Classic singles draw due to a right shoulder injury," the women's tour said on Twitter.
Barty will meet either two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza or Marketa Vondrousova. World No. 15 Muguruza had earlier outsted Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin ragged 6-2, 6-2.
World No. 3 Naomi Osaka recovered from a shaky start to power past Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-1 in 76 minutes in the Gippsland Trophy.
“She was a tricky opponent... I’m really relieved not to have to play a super-tiebreaker,” said Osaka, who smashed 23 winners.
World No. 2 Halep, however, slumped out after being thrashed by Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-1 in the Gippsland Trophy, where she appeared hampered by a lower back injury.
Meanwhile, fiery Austrialian Nick Kyrgios was warned for bad language and docked a point for unsportsmanlike conduct after he threw his racket into the stands during Friday's 6-3, 6-4 defeat by Borna Coric in the Murray River Open at Melbourne Park.
Kyrgios' problems began early on Friday as he struggled with a left knee issue and needed treatment midway through the match at the Australian Open warm-up event.
"I can't serve without pain. When I land it feels unstable," local media quoted Kyrgios as telling a trainer between sets.
"I'll probably just play one more game. I'm serving at like 170(kmh) instead of 220."
The 25-year-old, playing his first tournament in nearly a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, soldiered on and was warned by the chair umpire for swearing at 4-4 in the second set.
After his serve was broken, he smashed his racket and threw it into the empty stands.
On Wednesday, Kyrgios had needed assurances from a tournament supervisor that he would not be fined by the ATP for his behaviour in the last round against Harry Bourchier before agreeing to play on.
With so little competitive action over the last year, Kyrgios said it was difficult to hit top gear quickly and added there was a "massive question mark" over his chances at the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.
"It's not easy to just turn around and prepare for an event just like that. It's not like a tap," he told reporters. "I thought I did everything I could this week, won a couple of matches, had a lot of court time and practised every day.
"I think I'm ticking the boxes, I think I'm giving myself a chance."