Injured Sharapova, Serena withdraw from Acura field
By Jerry Magee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 29, 2005
, shown here competing at Wimbledon in June, is injured and will miss the Acura Classic.
"It looked so beautiful," Raquel Giscafre said.
An officer of Promotion Sports Inc., which offers the Acura Classic at the La Costa Resort and Spa, Giscafre was referring to the anticipated field for the $1.3 million event beginning with qualifying this weekend.
Only it doesn't look quite so beautiful now, not with Maria Sharapova
and Serena Williams yesterday having withdrawn, citing injuries – Sharapova a lower back strain, Williams a left ankle injury.
And that might not be all. Defending champion Lindsay Davenport's presence was made problematical because of a recurrence of a lower back strain yesterday during the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
Davenport retired after Anna-Lena Groenfeld of Germany had swept the first five games in Davenport's first appearance since losing the Wimbledon final to Venus Williams. Davenport had been hampered by a back strain in that match.
Acura officials said a decision on Davenport's participation is to be made Sunday. When the draw is made today, she is to be included. But Davenport said after her retirement that her thrust now is going to be on becoming fit for the U.S. Open, scheduled to begin Aug. 29.
"I still have four or five weeks before New York, and that's definitely my main goal," she told the Associated Press.
As a Tier I tournament on the WTA Tour, Giscafre said, the event had been promised two of the top four "gold exempt players," deemed such not because of their rankings but their marquee value. Davenport is No. 1 in these listings with Sharapova
No. 2, Williams No. 3 and Justine Henin-Hardenne No. 4.
With the withdrawals of Sharapova
and Williams and the likely absence of Davenport, the La Costa competition would have none of those four. Henin-Hardenne, the 2003 Acura champion, did not enter this year.
Giscafre said there is no recourse for the Carlsbad event. She said the tour formerly offered compensation to Tier I events when it failed to deliver the prescribed number of "gold exempt players," but it no longer does.
"But we'll go forward," Giscafre said. "This year's event is packed with top players. We're looking forward to a very exciting week of tennis."
Exempting Davenport, still in the field are Amelie Mauresmo (No. 3), Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 4), Elena Dementieva
(No. 6), Nadia Petrova (No. 8), Patty Schnyder (No. 12), Mary Pierce (No. 13), and Kim Clijsters (No. 14). Sharapova
is ranked No. 2, Williams No. 7.
Williams' withdrawal could not be considered surprising, considering her history of absenting herself from tournaments for which she has committed. Playing singles at La Costa for the first time a year ago, she withdrew before a scheduled quarterfinal test against Vera Zvonareva, citing inflammation in her left knee.
The junior Williams sister has not played since appearing overweight at Wimbledon and losing to unseeded American Jill Craybas. She had been scheduled to appear at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford this week, but withdrew because of the left ankle injury.
Giscafre said she was aware Williams had removed herself from the Palo Alto event but hoped she would compete next week.
"She's a tennis player. She needs to play, right?" Giscafre said.
Giscafre conferred with Sharapova
at Wimbledon and said the 2004 winner of that event advised her how much she was looking forward to participating at La Costa and visiting the spa there. "She loves the spa," Giscafre said.
Giscafre said in withdrawing, Sharapova
sent her a note saying she always tries to fulfill her commitments but that she was not at 100 percent because of her back problem and did not want to risk further injury.
Capturing Wimbledon made Sharapova
possibly the world's most recognizable female athlete. At 18, she has 10 career titles and has won $4,009,039 on the courts – and considerably more from her marketing ties. Her record this year: 41-7. Williams is 17-5.
Davenport said she knew it was going to be a tough day when she took the court against Groenfeld. "I did everything I could do," she told AP. "It's frustrating because it's so on and off. It's almost moody. I get clearance to play, clearance to practice and clearance to do stuff, and then it flares up again."
She said her back "locked up" when she stretched for a backhand during a prematch hit. She underwent two hours of treatment, then decided to try to go through with her match, but after the fifth game she had to call for a trainer. Several minutes later, she conceded.