Serena out of WTA Championships

Still alive for a berth in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Championships despite her crushing loss to sister Venus, Serena Williams pulled out of the season-ending event in Doha, Qatar with a stomach injury on Friday. Serena would have played Elena Dementieva for the final semifinal spot out of the maroon group. Both women were 1-1 in group play.

While it comes as a bit of shock since Serena still had realistic title hopes, it is not too surprising based on what she said after the 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 setback to her big sister. “This was definitely the worst match I’ve played this year by far,” Serena lamented. “I didn’t even look like a top eight player. Maybe top 600 in the juniors perhaps. I just couldn’t keep a ball in play. I couldn’t keep more than two balls over the net. I couldn’t serve. I couldn’t hit a backhand. I couldn’t hit a forehand. I couldn’t even volley.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played like that. I mean, I’ve never been in a situation where I just feel like I can’t do anything. Just everything was off and it was very frustrating out there. It was just terrible, terrible, terrible tennis.”

Serena refused to subject herself to more terrible tennis on Friday and instead withdrew, allowing replacement Nadia Petrova to play against Dementieva, who clinched the last semifinal position when Serena called it quits. Petrova made the most of her surprise appearance, but she ultimately fell to her Russian compatriot 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Agniezska Radwanksa also seized a replacement spot when Ana Ivanovic withdrew before her match against Svetlana Kuznetsova, citing a virus. “It’s obviously very hard for me,” said the Serb. “Yesterday I didn’t feel good and today, even worse.” Unlike Serena, Ivanovic had already been eliminated from semifinal contention with an 0-2 record. Kuznetsova also had an 0-2 mark in white group play, rendering the match mostly meaningless. Radwanska, however, took advantage of her opportunity and scored a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Kuznetsova.

Vera Zvonareva, 3-0 in the white group, and Jelena Jankovic (2-1) had already assured themselves of semifinal appearances. In Saturdays semifinals, Zvonareva will play Dementieva, the maroon No. 2 seed, and Jankovic will take on Venus, maroon No. 1.

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