SYDNEY Jan 12 Australia's gruelling summer
conditions claimed three more victims on Monday when Vera
Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka and Marion Bartoli all pulled out
of the Sydney International because of injury and illness.
Zvonareva, the world number seven from Russia, pulled out of
her first round-match against Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues
after suffering a bout of gastroenteritis.
A mystery virus forced Azarenka of Belarus, who claimed her
maiden WTA title at the Brisbane International on Saturday, to
forfeit her match against Australian Jarmila Gajdosova.
Bartoli, the former Wimbledon finalist from France, quit her
match against British qualifier Melanie South after just two
games because of a calf injury.
Seventh-seed Nadia Petrova also made an inglorious early
exit on a baking hot afternoon at Sydney's Olympic tennis centre
when she lost 6-2 6-4 to Alize Cornet of France on a mixed day
for Russia's powerful army of women players.
World number three Dinara Safina hardly raised a sweat in
beating Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-1 but Beijing Olympic
champion Elena Dementieva initially struggled in the heat before
beating fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 two days after
winning the Auckland Classic.
Dementieva said she struggled to cope with the Australian
conditions after spending the last week in New Zealand and was
not surprised at the high dropout rate.
"It's never easy to get used to the weather conditions here
in Australia," Dementieva told a news conference.
"It's extremely hot on the courts... so you have to be very
There were no major casualties in the men's draw on Monday
with Russian fifth-seed Igor Andreev defeating Canada's Frank
Dancevic 7-6 6-3 and Spanish seventh seed Tommy Robredo beating
Juergen Melzer of Austria 6-3 6-4.
(Reporting by Julian Linden, editing by Pritha Sarkar)