Azarenka blames WTA for Rome exit

Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka on Friday blamed the organizers of the women’s tour for the ranking rules that may have jeopardized her health ahead of the French Open.

The world No. 1 was in a battle to be fit for Roland Garros after withdrawing from the Rome Masters with a shoulder injury following her second-round victory over Israel’s Shahar Peer on Wednesday.

The Belarusian hit out at the WTA on Friday as she revealed she only took part in the key Italian tune-up to avoid a ranking penalty.

"I was conflicted and disappointed to withdraw from Rome," Azarenka tweeted. "I tried my hardest but I wasn’t healthy going into the tournament. If WTA rules were different then I could have focused on getting healthy, but I could not afford another zero pointer [penalty] on my ranking."

Azarenka had planned to skip the Rome tournament but entered to protect her top ranking ahead of the Paris slam after losing to Serena Williams in last Sunday’s Madrid Open final.

She added, "Hopefully in the future there will be more protection for players’ rights."