Australian Open: Victoria Azarenka pulls out over custody dispute

Australian Open: Victoria Azarenka pulls out over custody dispute

The American lost 7-5, 3-6, 1-6 to fellow former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber.

Former champion Stan Wawrinka gave Australian Open organizers a massive boost on Tuesday when he told reporters he was feeling "really positive" about the new season and was keen to get back on court.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from the Australian Open, tournament officials announced Sunday.

Serena Williams' decision not to defend her Australian Open title four months after giving birth to her first child had nothing to do with merely being able to play at Melbourne Park.

Nadal heads the entry list for the Australian Open and said he will be ready for the first round. Prior to 1988 the tournament had been played on grass courts, but since then two types of hardcourt surfaces have been used at Melbourne Park - green coloured Rebound Ace up to 2007 and, afterwards, blue Plexicushion.

The 23 time Grand Slam victor made a return to the big stage at an exhibition at Abu Dhabi last month where she lost to the French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko. For the first time in almost fifteen years, Venus reached two Slam finals in a season-at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. "My coach and team always said 'Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.' I can compete - but I don't want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time".

In the intervening years, her career has been no less exemplary-just for different reasons.

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Other star players, including top-ranked Rafael Nadal, six-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 victor Stan Wawrinka, also are dealing with injuries.

The 36 year old player said in a statement that after she competed in Abu Dhabi, she realized that even when she was really close, but she wasn't where she personally wanted to be.

"I'm very happy to be back in Australia", he said.

With five-times runner-up Andy Murray and Japan's Kei Nishikori already ruled out with injuries, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley welcomed Wawrinka's intention to play.

With Serena Williams out, the women's singles title at Melbourne appears to be wide open.

The Belarusian is the latest top name to withdraw from the Australian Open.