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Serena, del Potro withdraw from US Open

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Originally published on: 22/08/10 20:31

Defending champion Juan Martin del Potro and WTA world No.1 Serena Williams have both pulled out of this year’s US Open after admitting defeat their efforts to recover from injury in time.

Argentina’s del Potro, who beat Roger Federer in last year’s final to claim his first Grand Slam, is just the third man to miss the defence of his title in the Open era. He has not played since the Australian Open as a wrist injury picked up shortly after his 2009 triumph required surgery.

After the successful procedure in May, del Potro ruled himself out until October, but his recent return to training had led some to believe he was in contention for a shock return in New York, rumours fuelled by the USTA, who said they ‘expected’ the defending champion at the event in 2010.

But in a statement released by the ATP on Saturday, del Potro ended speculation about a possible return.

“I have only started practicing in the last two weeks and unfortunately I cannot compete at the top level yet,” he said. “I look forward to returning to New York in 2011 and wish all the best to the tournament organizers and my fellow players.”

“It is unfortunate that Juan Martin has not recovered from wrist surgery in time to defend his US Open title,” tournament director Jim Curley said Saturday. “We wish him all the best and look forward to his return to New York next year.”

On Friday, three-time champion Serena Williams confirmed she would be the first WTA No.1 to miss the US Open since 1975 after admitting she is still recovering from surgery to repair cuts on her right foot.

Williams said doctors advised her not to play so her foot can heal, and said missing the tournament represented “one of the most devastating moments of my career.”

“It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the US Open,” Williams said in a statement released by her publicist.

The 28-year-old Australian Open and Wimbledon champion hasn’t played since playing in an exhibition match against Kim Clijsters to a world-record tennis crowd of 35,681 in Brussels on July 8.

Shortly before that, the American was reportedly hurt by a broken glass at a restaurant while she was in Munich as she celebrated her thirteenth Grand Slam triumph at SW19. She hasn’t played a competitive match since.

“We regret that Serena Williams is unable to play the US Open and wish her a speedy recovery,” Curley said. “She will be missed, but the tournament is about the competition and the players on the court.”

Five-time US Open champ Roger Federer said Williams’ withdrawal has “got to be disappointing for her and for the tournament. I’m sure it hurts, especially with her being an American,” while Andy Roddick described her absence as a “fairly big-sized hit for the tournament.”

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to her about it, but I do know the US Open is probably her favourite event, so obviously, if she’s this far out and is not going to play, it’s got to be something pretty serious, which is unfortunate,” Roddick said, “because there’s no doubt about who the top draw card is in New York City as far as the women’s side of the draw.”

Williams’ withdrawal is another big blow for the women’s singles event, which last month lost former world No.1 Justine Henin to an elbow injury, which has called an premature end to her 2010 return season.

Fellow former champions Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and 2009 champ Kim Clijsters are each facing fitness battles in the run-up to the US Open, which starts on August 30.

Del Potro’s return to the tour is now scheduled for the Thailand Open next month in Bangkok. He joins Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and three-time US Open quarter-finalist Tommy Haas on the absentee list.

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