Victoria Azarenka fell from No. 1 to No. 2 when Serena Williams passed her in February. (Icon SMI)
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova has a chance to regain the No. 2 ranking after a day of withdrawals that saw defending champion Victoria Azarenka (ankle) and 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur (leg) pull out from the quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
Azarenka was set to play Caroline Wozniacki in the afternoon that would have been their meeting first in two years. Azarenka came into the tournament carrying a right ankle injury that she picked up in Dubai. Sporting kinesio tape on her lower leg, she looked hobbled in her fourth-round win over Urszula Radwanska, on the verge of tears during the match.
The withdrawals finalized Friday's women's semifinals slate, where Wozniacki will try and end her three-match losing streak to Kerber, while Maria Sharapova takes on Maria Kirilenko. If Sharapova wins her semifinal she'll take over the No. 2 ranking from Azarenka on Monday.
Practicing for her match this morning, Azarenka cut her session short and was seen limping to her bench and reportedly crying into a towel as she sat on her bench. She announced her withdrawal shortly thereafter citing that right ankle injury. Azarenka described the injury as tendonitis and inflammation around her right foot.
"I tried absolutely everything I could to do, but I have been advised by the doctor, by my own team, that it's just a very, very high risk already," Azarenka said "I mean, it's already really painful, but it's very high risk to make it much worse."
Azarenka is in wait-and-see mode with respect to her participation in next week's Sony Open in Miami.
"The doctor said it might heal quick the pain might go down quickly because of the inflammation going down, but the healing process is a little bit unknown," she said.
The announcement came hours after Stosur withdrew from her quarterfinal with Angelique Kerber due to a right calf injury she sustained in the last game of her fourth-round win over Mona Barthel. It was just Stosur's second withdrawal of her career.
"I had a bit of a rough start to the year and I feel like now my tennis has really picked up, and I’ve been playing really quite well these last few days," Stosur said in a statement. “I hurt my right calf muscle in the last game of my match against Mona Barthel when I was serving for the match, so I don’t know if you can get any more unlucky than that. I think we only played another four points in that match. I felt something go in my calf and it was hurting a fair bit. Yesterday I took the day off practice and only did treatment, probably iced it about 10 times. This morning I thought I would give it a shot, and tried to go out and warm up, and after about five minutes I knew that there was no chance I could play unfortunately.”