Tennis

Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka join exodus at French Open

The exodus of women's leading seeds in the French Open continued yesterday, with Serena Williams withdrawing due to an Achilles injury and recent US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka losing 6-2, 6-2 to Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Azarenka, who was criticised for moaning about the cold and damp conditions in her opening-round win, capitulated against her 161st-ranked opponent.

The 10th seed's defeat means that none of the women's semi-finalists at this month's US Open are left in the draw at Roland Garros, although winner Naomi Osaka did not travel to France.

Former world No. 1 Williams, who pulled out before her second-round match with Tsvetana Pironkova, admitted last week she was not fully fit after her run to the semi-finals in New York.

The 39-year-old, who was bidding to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam, said: "I'm struggling to walk, so that's kind of a tell-tale sign that I should try to recover."

Other seeds who have already tumbled out of the tournament include Johanna Konta (9), Madison Keys (12), last year's runner-up Marketa Vondrousova (15) and another former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber (18).

But top seed Simona Halep tamed Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-4 to set up a third-round meeting with American teenager Amanda Anisimova.

In the men's draw, world No. 3 Dominic Thiem survived a third-set wobble to beat American Jack Sock 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), while world No. 2 Rafael Nadal cruised past MacKenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3. - AFP, REUTERS

Tennis