Veronika Kudermetova joins Paula Badosa to pull out from the Adelaide International semi-finals with injury problems Friday, leaving them in a race to be fit for the Australian Open.
Their withdrawals gave Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina free rides into Saturday’s title match.
Russia’s Kudermetova, seeded nine for the opening Grand Slam of the year, which starts Monday, cited a left hip injury for her pull-out against Switzerland’s Bencic.
It followed epic three-setters in her two previous matches, with her quarter-final against Danielle Collins on Thursday extending beyond three hours.
Olympic champion Bencic, who has won nine of her last 10 matches, is aiming to claim a sixth singles trophy and her fifth on a hard court.
She will face world number eight Kasatkina, who is gunning for a seventh WTA title and her second in Australia, having claimed the Phillip Island Trophy last year.
Kasatkina progressed when Spain’s Badosa, seeded 11th at Melbourne Park, opted out because of a thigh injury.
The Grand Slam has been hit by numerous withdrawals in both the men’s and women’s fields, including two-time former champion Naomi Osaka, who is expecting her first child.
In the men’s draw, South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo dominated from the baseline to overpower Britain’s Jack Draper 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (2/7), 6-3 and surge into the final.
Kwon lost to Draper -- who is Rafael Nadal’s first-round opponent at the Australian Open -- in the first of two Adelaide tournaments and was set to miss this week’s event after losing to Tomas Machac in the final round of qualifying.
But he sneaked in as a lucky loser and is now in a final against Spanish fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who ousted Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3.
“It was a very difficult match today,” said Kwon. “I’m just really happy to win today... Last week he played very well, so I tried to just enjoy this match and be positive. I tried to be more aggressive.”
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