Dubai, Feb 23: U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur advanced to the third round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday by defeating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1.
Caroline Wozniacki also advanced Wednesday after the third-seeded Danish player opened her title defense by beating Romania's Simona Halep 6-2, 6-3.
Earlier Wednesday, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the Dubai tournament because of a left ankle injury. The Australian Open champion, who has won 17 straight matches so far this season, says she will rest for two or three days.
"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. ... But it has to be taken care of right away."
Azarenka injured her left ankle during last week's semifinal match at the Qatar Open. However, Azarenka shook off the injury to beat Stosur in the final.
In Dubai, the fourth-seeded Stosur of Australia broke Safarova twice in both the first and third sets, and saved all nine break points she faced in the match.
She will meet eight-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in the third round on Thursday. Jankovic defeated Italy's Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-4. Stosur and Jankovic last played in the quarterfinals in the 2011 Dubai tournament, with the Serb winning.
"Good chance for me to try and bounce back from that loss that I had against her," Stosur said, adding that Thursday's match will be one of those "where I think I've got to really step up and play aggressive and realize she's (Jankovic) not going to make too many errors."
Wozniacki will face Ana Ivanovic after the Serbian player defeated Maria Kirilenko of Russia, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
The ninth-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany also advanced after defeating Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3. Lisicki will play Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round, after the fifth-seeded Polish player defeated Israel's Shahar Peer 7-5, 6-4.
Azarenka said the packed tennis schedule and increasingly tough competition could be partly to blame for so many injuries among the players.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, French Open winner Li Na and Vera Zvonareva have also pulled out the Dubai tournament because of injury and illness.
"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."
Wozniacki, who was ranked No. 1 until Azarenka unseated her last month by winning the Australian Open, said she hoped her Belarusian rival will recover from her injury after a good rest.
"Vika (Azarenka) has had a great start to the year. I'm sure her body is feeling very tired at the moment, and she needed the rest before Indian Wells," Wozniacki said. "You know, injuries happen in tennis. Just need to be happy when you're healthy."