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Azarenka out of Rome event

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Originally published on: 17/05/12 00:00

The world No.1, who made the decision after thumping Israel’s Shahar Peer 6-1 6-2 on Wednesday evening, reached the semi-finals at the Italian event in 2009. Her retirement comes just 10 days ahead of the French Open and days after she reached the Madrid final, where she lost 6-1 6-3 to Serena Williams.

Azarenka has twice made the quarter-finals in Paris. She defeated 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic to reach the last eight in 2009, before falling to eventual runner-up Dinara Safina. After a shock first round exit to Gisela Dulko the following year, she went on to reach the 2011 quarter-finals, losing to eventual champion Li Na.

The Belarusian has been in scintillating form this year, compiling a 26-match winning streak to start the season, winning titles in Sydney, Melbourne, Doha and Indian Wells before finally losing to Marion Bartoli in the last eight in Miami.

She made successive finals in her two tournaments since, only to fall to Maria Sharapova, who she defeated in January’s Australian Open final, in Stuttgart before running into Serena in Madrid.

Azarenka’s withdrawal is good news for 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova, who advances to the quarter-finals in Rome for the first time on her third appearance at the Foro Italico. The Slovakian had fallen in each of her previous two tour events – in Madrid and Stuttgart – in the first round.

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