Lesia Tsurenko, of Ukraine, returns a shot to Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon
January 13, 2017

SYDNEY (AP) Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from the Hobart International semifinals on Friday with a viral illness, just days before she was to meet No. 1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round of the Australian Open.

Hobart officials said the Ukrainian would not contest her semifinal against Monica Niculescu, handing the Romanian a walkover. Niculescu will meet the winner of the Elise Mertens-Jana Fett semifinal later Friday in Saturday's final.

After withdrawing from the Brisbane International with a similar complaint, the 61st-ranked Tsurenko won three matches in Hobart.

''I'm really disappointed because I'm still not feeling well, and it is getting worse with playing more and more matches,'' Tsurenko said. ''I'm taking some more medications and really hope to be better in Melbourne.''

The Australian Open begins Monday, although Tsurenko might not have to play Kerber until Tuesday.

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