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Tennis player Ivanovic withdraws from Olympics

Top seed Ana Ivanovic has withdrawn from the tennis competition. The Serb suffers a thumb injury and has not been able to practice since she arrived in Beijing.


Beijing 2008 commented by FRANCE 24 Observers


Women's top seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia pulled out of the Olympic Games tennis tournament on Sunday in a fresh blow after the first day of competition was heavily disrupted by prolonged thunderstorms.

The French Open champion, who will cede her world number one status to compatriot Jelena Jankovic on Monday, has failed to recover from an injured right thumb and joins Maria Sharapova, Tatiana Golovin and Amelie Mauresmo on the sidelines.

Atlanta Games 1996 champion Lindsay Davenport has also decided not to play in the singles.

"This is the worst moment of my career," said the 20-year-old Serb, who has been undergoing osteopathic treatment here in a bid to alleviate the pain and restore the strength in the thumb she injured in last month's WTA Rogers Cup in Montreal.

"In the past month I have been in so much pain and I haven't been able to practise for 10 days.

"I haven't even hit a ball since arriving in Beijing," said Ivanovic, who was slated to play a first round match against Mariya Koryttseva on Monday.

The news came after a rain-disrupted first day of competition during which only nine of the 45 scheduled matches were completed.

On court, US number one James Blake dodged the heavy rain and thunder to secure a quickfire win but other stars were not so lucky.

Blake, Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez waited out a two-hour rain delay before booking their places in the second round, but top US women's seed Serena Williams was frustrated by a series of showers.

Williams was on and off Centre Court but was leading Belarus's Olga Govortsova 6-3, 2-1 when the heavens opened with a vengeance at around 4:30 pm (0830 GMT).

The day's play was finally called off at 7:00 pm with only nine matches completed, giving officials a headache as they juggle the packed singles and doubles roster.

Outgoing world number one Roger Federer was among those affected with his evening match against Dmitry Tursunov delayed.

Earlier Blake drew inspiration from Michael Phelps' world-record 400m medley swim as he shrugged off the initial rain delay to beat Australia's Chris Guccione 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).

"It was very exciting. Sitting there this morning watching Michael Phelps set a world record was special to me because it made me realize how many people are inspired by him," said Blake.

"Now I'm in the position to have that opportunity, to go out there and get a medal for my country. Today was hopefully the first step towards that."

Athens bronze medallist Gonzalez of Chile eased past China's Sun Peng 6-4, 6-4 while Russian fourth seed Davydenko overcame dangerous Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-2.

Czech player Tomas Berdych beat China's Yu Xinyuan and Frederic Niemeyer of Canada retired to send Argentine Guillermo Canas into the second round.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur of Australia, Italian Francesca Schiavone and Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova progressed in the women's draw.

But Williams, China's Peng Shuai, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic were all mid-match and were left kicking their heels in the locker room.

World number eight Blake, who missed Athens 2004 during a traumatic spell in which he broke his neck and lost his father, will face either Dominik Hrbaty or Thomaz Bellucci in round two.

The 28-year-old New Yorker flashed a cross-court forehand winner to set up the first-set break point and converted with an unplayable backhand return on 23 minutes against his Australian opponent.

He was held in the second set by the 90th-ranked left-hander but raced to a 3-0 lead in the tie-break before wrapping it up with an ace down the middle on 72 minutes.


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