Venus bows out with hip injury

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MELBOURNE, Australia --- Venus Williams had played 251 Grand Slam matches and never once been forced to retire because of injury.

Venus Williams (front) is embraced by Andrea Petkovic after Williams withdrew from their match with an injury on Friday. It was the first time she has retired from a Grand Slam event.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Venus Williams (front) is embraced by Andrea Petkovic after Williams withdrew from their match with an injury on Friday. It was the first time she has retired from a Grand Slam event.

It took all of four minutes for that streak to end Friday.

The seven-time major winner spent more than 48 hours agonizing over whether she'd be ready for the third round of the Australian Open. She decided to go ahead, hoping enough adrenalin would kick in to allow her to play through the pain.

Williams was ailing after her second-round victory, her ability to move severely restricted. Waiting for her in the third round was 30th-seeded Andrea Petkovic. Williams took the court on a cool Friday night at Rod Laver Arena "just hoping for some magic."

The match was over almost before it began. Williams won just one of the seven points she played before she bent over in pain, clutching her right side. She knew she had to stop.

"A lot of times when you play ... you get this adrenalin that blocks pain," she said. "But I just didn't get enough of that today. Obviously, I just couldn't play. I couldn't move. It was too painful."

The lunge to her right side on the last point aggravated a muscle in her hip that she hurt Wednesday night against Sandra Zahlavova.

Her thigh was heavily bandaged when she walked on the court Friday.

On the men's side, second-seeded Roger Federer beat Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

No. 8 Andy Roddick overcame a slow start before powering to victory with 32 aces, stopping Robin Haase 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2.

No. 6 Tomas Berdych, No. 9 Fernando Verdasco and No. 19 Stanislas Wawrinka advanced. Wawrinka defeated No. 12 Gael Monfils 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3 and will meet Roddick in the next round.

No. 3 Novak Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, was leading Viktor Troicki 6-2 when his Serbian Davis Cup teammate retired because of a stomach muscle strain.

Like Williams, Justine Henin has won seven majors and been ranked No. 1. She had never lost in the Australia Open to anyone who hadn't been No. 1 at one time.

That changed Friday when Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former French and U.S. Open champion once ranked No. 2, beat her 6-4, 7-6 (8).

This was Henin's worst showing at Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon in 2005.

No. 1 Caroline Woznicki is already into the fourth round following her 6-4, 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova.

Vera Zvonareva, the second seed, kept alive her bid for a third consecutive Grand Slam final, beating Lucie Safarova 6-3, 7-6 (9) to also reach the fourth round.


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