Injured Serena pulls out of Yarra Valley Classic, Osaka marches on

Serena Williams showed her fighting spirit with a fine win over Danielle Collins on Friday but the American’s sore shoulder means she will not play her semi-final.

When you’re a 23-times Grand Slam champion chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, it’s not worth taking any risks.

And so Serena Williams will not play her semi-final against Ash Barty in the Yarra Valley Classic, the efforts of beating Danielle Collins on Friday leaving her with a sore shoulder.

Serena Williams, Melbourne Summer Series 2021

Yarra Valley Classic

The next time we see Williams on the match court it will be during her quest to equal Margate Court’s record of 24 slams at the Australian Open next week. The American, seeded fifth, won the only match she played on Friday (6-2, 4-6, 10-6) over fellow American and No 13 seed Danielle Collins but then withdrew citing a right-shoulder injury. That sent No 1 Ash Barty straight through to the semi-finals.

Barty had previously defeated Shelby Rogers 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. The top-ranked Aussie was in line for a tough day at the office, but she avoided having to do double duty thanks to Williams’ unexpected exit.

On the other side of the bracket, it will be No 6 Garbine Muguruza against No 8 seed Marketa Vondrousova on semi-final Saturday. Muguruza took out the No 2 seed and reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-2, 6-2, while Vondrousova ousted No 14 Nadia Podoroska 4-6, 6-3, 10-4.

Gippsland Trophy

With rain coming down on the outside courts, No 2 seed Naomi Osaka picked up another victory inside Margaret Court Arena. Having previously defeated Katie Boulter 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday, Osaka came back out about 48 hours later (Thursday play was cancelled to allow for Covid-19 testing) and she beat Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-1.

No 1 Simona Halep was not as fortunate. The Romanian was clearly struggling from a physical standpoint and lost to No 9 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-1.

Alexandrova awaits Kaia Kanepi in the semi-finals after the Estonian got a walkover from No 8 Karolina Muchova. Osaka will go up against No 7 Elise Mertens, who held off No 3 Elina Svitolina 6-3, 5-7, 10-6 in the nightcap at Melbourne Park.

Grampians Trophy

A late addition to the calendar for players who were in hard quarantine for two weeks, the Grampians Trophy resumed on Friday.

Among the afternoon winners were No 3 Victoria Azarenka, No 5 Maria Sakkari, No 6 Anett Kontaveit, No 7 Jennifer Brady, and No 8 Angelique Kerber. Azarenka survived an especially entertaining affair with Yulia Puntintseva, prevailing 6-4, 1-6, 11-9.

Seeds who took a tumble were No 2 Belinda Bencic and No 4 Elena Rybakina. Bencic got bounced out by Sorana Cirstea via a 7-5, 6-2 decision, while Rybakina fell to Barbora Krejcikova 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.

Check out the full order of play for all three tournaments.

Also read: Australian Open build-up: Events, players, details for Melbourne Park events

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