Injured stars improving ahead of Australian Open
The all-star cast of walking wounded continued to improve heading into the Australian Open, with Rafael Nadal, Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams and defending champion Kim Clijsters all reporting progress with their respective injuries.
Nadal has had a sore left shoulder, Wozniacki an inflamed left wrist, Williams a sprained left ankle and Clijsters left hip spasms.
The Spanish left-hander has played through the injury since it cropped up late last season, while Wozniacki required treatment during the deciding set of her quarterfinal loss at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
Williams pulled out of the Brisbane International last week after twisting her ankle while winning a second-round match, and Clijsters retired from her semifinal.
On Thursday, WTA spokesman Eloise Tyson said Wozniacki had an MRI exam on her wrist that ''showed no major damage.''
''It's inflamed, and she will continue to have it monitored and it's hopeful she will play the Australian Open,'' Tyson said.
Williams said ''the ankle is better'' during a promotional appearance Thursday.
''It's not 100 percent, but it's better than it was last week,'' she said. ''I feel great. And I feel like I'm really fit. And I feel like this is definitely some of the fittest I have been in my career.''
Nadal, at an official appearance for the tournament's vehicle sponsor, said ''my shoulder is good. I'll try to do my best.''
Clijsters had a scan on her hip, which showed she had not suffered a muscle tear. On Thursday, she trained at Melbourne Park freely and looked to be in strong shape to defend the title she won last year.
On Wednesday, Andrea Petkovic withdrew from the Open with a stress fracture in her lower back that could keep her sidelined for two months. The 24-year-old German was seeded 10th.
Petkovic lost 7-5, 6-4 to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in a second-round match at the Sydney International on Tuesday. She needed an injury timeout during the match to receive treatment.
She released a statement saying she'd been having back problems for three or four months.
Petkovic said doctors advised her it will take six to eight weeks to recover.
Roger Federer, a four-time Australian Open champion, pulled out of a tournament in Qatar last week with a sore back, but has been training in Melbourne without any apparent issues over the past five days.
Maria Sharapova withdrew before the Brisbane tournament with an injured ankle, but has been training in Melbourne ahead of the Monday start of the tournament.
Venus Williams, the elder of the Williams sisters, pulled out of the Australian Open on Monday, prolonging her absence from the WTA tour because of an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.