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Sports Shorts: Serena handed tough draw at Indian Wells

March 05, 2019 11:50 IST

Summary of sports events and persons who made news on Tuesday

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams could face Victoria Azarenak in the 2nd round. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Former World No 1 Serena Williams was handed a tough draw at the BNP Paribas Open.

The 23-time major champion could face former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka in a second-round match, as the full draw was revealed on Monday.

 

10th seed, Williams was drawn into the same quarter as fellow American and 4th seed Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens in the bottom half.

Azarenka has already the upper hand over Williams having defeated her in the Indian Wells final in 2016.

Williams is set to face an uphill task as even if she manages to win her second-round match, she could end up facing number 20 seed and two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza.

In other quarters of the second half, number two seed Simona Halep will face the winner of Barbora Strycova or a qualifier first up.

On the top half of the draw, defending champion and top seed Naomi Osaka will face either Kristina Mladenovic or Zheng Saisai in her first match at the tournament this year.

Tiger Woods withdraws from Arnold Palmer Invitational

Eight-time champion Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando due to a neck strain, the former world number one said on Monday.

Woods, who returned to competition last season after a lengthy recovery from spinal fusion surgery, said he had been dealing with the strain for a few weeks and that he hoped to play in The Players Championship next week.

"I've been receiving treatment, but it hasn't improved enough to play," Woods said in a post on Twitter.

"My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players."

Woods did not say how he suffered the neck strain but there was nothing about his play at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he tied for 10th eight days ago, to suggest he was not healthy.

In his only other starts this year, Woods finished in a share of 20th place at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January followed by a T15 at the Genesis Open in mid-February.

The injury is the first setback for Woods since he returned to regularly competing on the PGA Tour in January 2018, which marked the start of a remarkable comeback campaign he capped with a win in the Tour Championship season finale.

While the injury does appear to be anything serious it could garner more attention if he finds himself unable to tee it up at TPC Sawgrass next week for the PGA Tour's flagship event, which is widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major.

Woods, who last won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2013, made a run at Bay Hill last year but finished five shots behind winner Rory McIlroy in a share of fifth place after his late charge fizzled with a pair of bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes.

"I'd like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans," wrote Woods. "Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favourite tournaments and I'm disappointed to miss it."

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