Injured Azarenka withdraws from Qatar Open semis, Muguruza into final

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2021 Belarus' Victoria Azarenka in action during her first round match against Jessica Pegula of the U.S. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

(Reuters) - Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka pulled out of her Qatar Open semi-final match in Doha due to a back problem she sustained in her quarter-final meeting with Elina Svitolina, organisers of the WTA 500 event said on Friday.

The eighth-seeded Belarusian was scheduled to face Garbine Muguruza, who received a walkover into Saturday's final.

"Unfortunately, the pain in my back I experienced during yesterday's match has not gone away enough in order for me to be able to compete," Azarenka said in a statement.

"I have loved being back here in Doha this week, and want to thank the tournament and everyone involved with the organization of this great event for hosting us and making it possible to play during these challenging times.

"I'm very appreciative of being awarded a wild card to compete this week and I'm looking forward to being back in Doha again next year."

Muguruza will meet Czech Petra Kvitova, who beat qualifier Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-4 to storm into her third Doha title clash in the last four years.

Azarenka's injury casts doubt on her participation in next week's Dubai Tennis Championships.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)

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