MIAMI: Poland’s Iga Swiatek speaks during a press conference at the Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP
MIAMI: Poland’s Iga Swiatek speaks during a press conference at the Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

MIAMI: World number one Iga Swiatek withdrew from the Miami Open tournament on Wednesday with a rib injury.

The Pole was the defending champion at Miami and was expected to play American Claire Liu in the second round on Thursday after receiving a first-round bye.

Swiatek said she had initially hurt her rib by strong coughing after picking up an infection.

“You know that in and after Doha I was struggling with a strong infection,” Swiatek said.

“I was allowed to play, but a strong episode of tough cough led to a rib injury. We were trying to handle it and continue to play as long as it was safe for me. We were analyzing the data in the last days and my doctor prepared my diagnosis.

“Unfortunately, I’m still feeling a lot of discomfort and pain and I can’t compete.”

Swiatek suggested the injury was not serious enough to keep her sidelined for long, although she did not indicate a timeline for her return.

With a strong lead over second-placed Aryna Sabalenka in the rankings, Swiatek’s number one status will not be immediately impacted by missing Miami.

“Of course I’m going to lose points for this tournament but it doesn’t change anything in terms of my approach and my mentality,” she said.

“I was also aware at the beginning of the season that it’s going to be hard for me to defend all these points.

“Missing this tournament is not going to help, but on the other hand, as I said, you know injuries happen and I didn’t have any injuries for two or three years.

“What’s going to happen next? We’ll see. Obviously it’s going to depend on the recovery but for now it’s not a horrible scenario.”

Swiatek said in a statement that she would also miss Poland’s upcoming match against Kazak­hstan in the Billie Jean King Cup competition.

Earlier on Tuesday in Miami Open first round clash, Italy’s Camila Giorgi survived a near nightmare third-set collapse to edge Estonian Kaia Kanepi 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-6(4).

Giorgi appeared in complete control when she took a 5-0 third set lead but the veteran Kanepi refused to go away, erasing two match points to draw level at 5-5.

Despite issuing 14 double faults and at one point throwing her racket in frustration, Giorgi stayed composed in the final set breaker, smacking a forehand winner on match point to end the three-hour, 32-minute slugfest.

Giorgi will next face 14th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who like the other 32 seeded players at the tournament received a first-round bye.

Elsewhere, Belgian Elise Mertens brushed aside American Alycia Parks 6-1 6-4 to set up a second-round clash with eighth-seed Daria Kasatkina.

Mertens, a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, put her net skills to good use to see off Parks and set up a meeting with the crafty Kasatkina.Canadians Rebecca Marino and Katherine Sebov, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and China’s Wang Xiyu were among the other first-round winners at the WTA 1000 event.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2023

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