May 04, 2016

    Federer withdraws from Madrid after back injury


    ROGER Federer's withdrawal due to a back injury overshadowed the day's play in Madrid on Monday as seeds continued to fall on the women's side.

    He injured his back in practice on Saturday but hoped to be fit for the Rome Masters next week in the build-up to the French Open later this month.

    Said the 17-time Grand Slam champion: "I want to play it safe, rest up and get ready for Rome, that's the schedule now."

    After shock defeats for the top two seeds - Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber - on Sunday, more big names fell, leaving just seven of the 16 seeds still standing.

    However, Victoria Azarenka extended her winning streak to 16 matches, with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory over France's Alize Cornet.

    The Belarusian clinched her last two tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami and is the favourite to land her first title in Madrid in the absence of world number one Serena Williams due to flu.

    Azarenka will face American qualifier Louisa Chirico in the third round after she stunned 14th seed Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.

    A resurgent Rafael Nadal began his quest to win a fifth title in Madrid yesterday when he faced Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.

    Defending champion Andy Murray was also in action yesterday against Radek Stepanek or Vasek Pospisil.