MASON, Ohio (AP) - Serena Williams dropped out of the Western &
Southern Open because of a sore toe Wednesday, her latest setback
after nearly a year away from the court.
Her decision to rest her troublesome right foot cost the women's
bracket yet another high-profile player and raised doubts about her
readiness for the U.S. Open.
"I don't think this is a good time for me to take a big
chance," she said, after the big toe on her right foot bothered
her during a morning workout. "I just don't think that would be
She was the latest high-profile woman to drop out of the
Cincinnati-area tournament, which combined a women's event and the
men's Masters for the first time this season.
Sister Venus Williams withdrew before the start because of a
virus that also forced her to sit out the tournament in Toronto.
Defending champion Kim Clijsters couldn't play because of an
The tournament also lost top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki on
Wednesday afternoon. Wozniacki dropped her opening match for the
second consecutive week, falling to American Christina McHale 6-4,
7-5 in the second round. Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka withdrew
before her evening match because of a strained right hand.
In the men's bracket, top-ranked Novak Djokovic beat American
Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-3. No. 2 Rafael Nadal beat French qualifier
Julien Benneteau 6-4, 7-5 while playing with two fingers on his
right hand bandaged to protect burned fingertips. The left-handed
Nadal said he got the burns by touching a hot plate at a local
Serena Williams' withdrawal was unexpected. She had won two
straight tournaments at Stanford and Toronto, gaining some momentum
after missing nearly a year because of medical problems. Williams
arrived looking to win three tournaments in a row for the first
time since the start of the 2008 season.
She beat Lucie Hradecka in two sets on Tuesday night, when the
toe started bothering her. It was her seventh match in eight days
and her 12th straight win, equaling the longest such streak on the
WTA Tour this year.
The toe was worse when she woke up on Wednesday - sore and a
little swollen. She talked to her father and her sister before
deciding to withdraw from the tournament. It's the same foot she
cut on glass at a restaurant and had two operations.
"It's not as bad as it was before," she said. "It's just a
lot of match play. I've been playing a lot of the matches, more
than I have in a long time, and also training as well. It got a
little aggravated. Instead of making it worse, I've decided it will
be in my best health not to go on."
The time off also will give her the opportunity to attend the
wedding Kim Kardashian, who is marrying NBA player Kris Humphries
in California over the weekend. Williams is a friend of the reality
"Now that I have time, I probably will," she said. "I hadn't
thought about it."
After a news conference to announce her decision, Williams
headed across Interstate 71 to enjoy a ride at Kings Island. The
amusement park released a photo of her in the front row of its
Diamondback roller coaster, holding back her hair at the start of a
While Williams was deciding to withdraw, Wozniacki was
struggling to keep the ball in play. She also lost her opening
match last week in Toronto.
The Dane had never faced the 76th-ranked McHale, who broke
Wozniacki in the 11th game of the second set with a delicate drop
shot. She clinched the match when Wozniacki sailed a forehand long.
"I can't remember the last time I had two first-round exits,"
she said. "It's a bit different. You know, I usually play better
as the week goes on, but what happens, happens."
Djokovic has been the world's most consistent player this
season, going 54-1. Last week in Montreal, he became the first to
win five ATP Masters series titles in one season. He improved to
30-0 on hard courts by taking advantage of Harrison, a 19-year-old
from Florida who broke his serve to open the match, then fell
apart. Harrison had 20 unforced errors in the first set alone.
Djokovic would like to keep his winning streak intact heading
into the U.S. Open, where he lost the title match to Nadal last
"Performing the best tennis is the priority in New York," he
said. "But I'm not playing the matches in this tournament just to
get some practice. I'm playing to win."
Nadal played with the index and middle fingers on his right hand
taped. It bothered him on his backhand shots.
"I got burned," he said. "I had a little bit of an accident
in a restaurant a few days ago."
Freelance writer Mark Schmetzer in Mason contributed to this