Tennis-Norway's Ruud pulls out of Australian Open with ankle injury

  • Tennis
  • Tuesday, 18 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP Cup - Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia - January 3, 2022 Norway's Casper Ruud during his group stage match against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

(Reuters) - World number eight Casper Ruud withdrew from the Australian Open on Tuesday, just hours before his first match at the year's opening Grand Slam, after sustaining an ankle injury in practice.

'Lucky loser' Roman Safiullin replaced the Norwegian in the draw and will take on Slovak Alex Molcan later on Tuesday.

"Two days ago in practice I rolled or twisted my ankle," said Ruud. "I tried everything I could to be ready, but unfortunately I've decided that I'm not 100% and I will not be able to play like I have to, to compete at this level.

"I tried to play a little bit yesterday and today to see how it feels. Unfortunately there were no improvements today ... The plan is obviously to rest."

Ruud reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year before retiring with an abdominal injury against Andrey Rublev.

The 23-year-old's absence will open up his quarter of the draw, with 11th seed Jannik Sinner of Italy favourite to reach the quarter-finals while Andy Murray, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Alex De Minaur will also see an opportunity to go deeper.

Ruud's withdrawal means the men's draw lost two of the top eight seeds before they played a match, with world number one Novak Djokovic deported from Australia after losing a court case to have his visa cancellation overturned.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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