No. 1 Azarenka pulls out of Dubai

Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday because of a left ankle injury.

The 22-year-old Azarenka said she will rest for two or three days, hoping the ankle will heal. The Belarusian, who has won 17 straight matches so far this season, said she’ll take a break from tennis and go home to spend some time with her family.

”Obviously it’s very disappointing, but, I mean, it’s life. It’s sport. I just have to take care of it and that’s it,” Azarenka said. ”I take a couple of days off just to see and hopefully it will settle down for as long that I don’t need to take a scan or anything.

”But I just need to have my peace of mind and probably will still do the same just to make sure there is nothing really serious. But it has to be taken care of right away.”

The 22-year-old Azarenka was the top top-seeded player at the Dubai tournament and was scheduled to play her opening match against Julia Goerges of Germany later Wednesday.

The Australia Open champion injured her left ankle during last week’s semifinal match at the Qatar Open. However, Azarenka shook off the injury to win the Qatar Open on Sunday, beating Sam Stosur 6-1, 6-2.

It was the Belarusian’s 17th straight victory and her first title since replacing Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the rankings after winning in Melbourne. The Doha victory was Azarenka’s third title of 2012.

”Last week it (the ankle) was already hurt in the semifinal, and in the final I tried to do everything, you know, to be able to play. I took a lot of sacrifice by taking a lot of painkillers, but apparently didn’t get better,” Azarenka said. ”I had to adjust my movement, compromise in the other parts of my body which started to hurt, and it’s just too much of a risk.”

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, French Open winner Li Na and Vera Zvonareva have also pulled out the Dubai tournament because of injury and illness.

A packed tennis schedule and tough competition could be partly to blame for so many injuries among the players, Azarenka said.

”For me, obviously I played so much, and it was an unfortunate situation what happened in Doha,” Azarenka said. ”But I mean, it’s just the game became so physical. Sometimes it’s really tough on the body week after week to play. For example, these tournaments back-to-back with such a tough field, it takes a lot out of you physically. It’s just tough.”