Serena's bad knee forces Hopman pull-out
WORLD No. 1 Serena Williams suffered an early season injury setback yesterday when she withdrew from the United States' opening Hopman Cup tie with a knee inflammation.
Her withdrawal helped the Ukraine pairing of Elina Svitolina and Alexandr Dolgopolov record a 2-1 round-robin opening win over the US in the mixed teams tournament.
Williams was replaced by American youngster Vicky Duval, on the comeback trail after being diagnosed with cancer in 2014. But the 20-year-old was no match for the world No. 19.
The first set was competitive but Svitolina cruised past the tiring Duval 6-4, 6-1.
Dolgopolov then secured the tie with a 6-4, 6-2 win over a disappointing Jack Sock.
In the mixed doubles, the US pair gained some consolation by winning 6-2, 6-3.
Williams, 34, was scheduled to play Svitolina in the women's singles to open the tie.
However, she withdrew minutes before the start, saying she had pulled up sore after a training session earlier in the day.
The match at the mixed-teams tournament would have launched Williams' preparations for her title defence at the Australian Open in Melbourne later this month.
Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, conceded Williams' knees were troubling her in November.
But the player said she hoped to be fit to play in the US' second tie against Australia Gold, one of two teams representing the hosts, later today.
"I'm disappointed to not take the court in Perth today," Williams said. "Unfortunately, due to inflammation in my knee, I need to rest and am confident to be out there against Aussie Gold tomorrow evening."
Tournament organisers dismissed suggestions the presence of Duval in Perth as an emergency player for the event indicated they were aware of concerns over the fitness of Williams.
The player won her sixth Australian Open last January and was on target for the coveted calendar-year Grand Slam until she suffered a shock loss to Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals at the US Open in September.