INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Top seed Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the semi-finals in Indian Wells Thursday when her opponent, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, retired because of a hip injury while trailing 0-3.
The eighth-seeded Azarenka, a close friend of Wozniacki, suffered the injury while trying to play a forehand during the second point of the third game in the opening set.
She summoned her trainer, laid down on a towel on the stadium court and had her upper left thigh massaged before taking a 10-minute medical timeout.
When Azarenka returned with her hip and upper leg heavily wrapped, she played two more points for Dane Wozniacki to take 3-0 lead before forfeiting the match on the stadium court.
“Victoria is one of my best friends on the tour, and to see her in pain on the court and to see her get injured was not nice for sure,” Wozniacki told reporters after the reaching the last four at Indian Wells for a second successive year.
“I would like to have won it in another way, but I’m through to the semi-finals and I’m happy to be there.”
“I wish Victoria all the best and hope she can play Miami next week,” world number one Wozniacki added, referring to the elite WTA event at Key Biscayne.
The Dane, who will stay at the top of the rankings until at least the end of the Miami tournament, will play either Russian Maria Sharapova or China’s Peng Shuai in the last four at Indian Wells.
Former world number one Sharapova, the 16th seed, and Peng were scheduled to play their quarter-final later Thursday.
Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli and Belgian Yanina Wickmayer advanced to the last four Wednesday.
Bartoli, at 26 the oldest player left in the draw, shrugged off a stomach bug to beat Serb Ana Ivanovic 6-4 7-6 while Wickmayer, the 23rd seed, upset 10th-seeded Shahar Peer 6-3 6-3.
After Azarenka’s withdrawal, Wozniacki remained courtside to display a Japanese flag which she and her opponent had tied to the chair umpire’s seat during their match as a tribute to the victims of last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The players had written the words: ‘Our thoughts are with you! Caroline and Victoria’, on the flag.
“It’s just devastating to see what’s going on in Japan,” Wozniacki said. “We wanted to show that we’re thinking about them over there. We thought this was the least we could do.”
Wozniacki, who won her 13th WTA title at last month’s Dubai championships, had asked her manager to find a Japanese flag, which he did after taking a two-hour drive from Indian Wells.
“I said: ‘You better take your car and drive over there and get that flag to me’,” the Dane added with a smile.
Editing by Frank Pingue