Serena Williams withdraws from Italian Open
London: Serena Williams has withdrawn from next week’s Italian Open, saying she needs more time to be “100 percent ready to compete.” The tournament made the announcement via Twitter. Williams returned to the tour briefly this year after a 14-month absence to give birth to her daughter. The 23-time Grand Slam champion also withdrew from this week’s Madrid Open and sitting out Rome puts her status for the French Open, which starts May 27, in doubt. Williams, a four-time Italian Open champion, has not played since her a first-round loss to Naomi Osaka in March at the Miami Open. Catherine Bellis takes Williams’ place in the Rome draw.
B Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma progress in Australian Open
NEW DELHI: Indian shuttlers started on a positive note at the Australian Open with second seed B Sai Praneeth and fourth seed Sameer Verma progressing to the second round of the men’s singles event in Sydney on Wednesday. While Praneeth beat Israel’s Misha Zilberman in straight games 21-17 21-14, Sameer had to toil hard to get the better of New Zealand’s Abhinav Manota 13-21 21-17 21-12 in the opening round of the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 300 event.
Sameer’s brother, Sourabh Verma, however, suffered a hard-fought 19-21 21-17 21-12 defeat at the hands of Japan’s Takuma Ueda.
It was curtains for unseeded Ajay Jayram too despite offering a valiant fight before going down 20-22 22-20 21-17 to Japan’s Riichi Takeshita in a pulsating contest that lasted for one hour and 12 minutes.
Praneeth will next play Panji Ahmad Maulana of Indonesia, while Sameer will be up against Takuma, who defeated his elder brother in the opening round.
Other lesser-known Indians, who fell by the wayside in men’singles first round, were Karan Rajan Rajarajan, losing 15-21 8-21 against Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia, and Rahul Yadav Chittaboina. (Agencies)