Ivanovic Injury Puts Belgium Into Hopman Final
A stomach injury to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic has handed Belgium a place in the mixed-teams Hopman Cup final on Saturday.
The Serbian pairing of Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic were top seeds and topped Group A by winning two of their three round-robin ties, with Belgian duo Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans second despite beating the Serbs on Thursday.
However, Ivanovic hurt her stomach in a straight sets singles loss to Henin and the injury flared at practice on Friday.
The 23-year-old had scans on Friday afternoon and was ruled out of the final in a major disruption to her Australian Open preparations.
Ivanovic was due to play at the Sydney International next week, but the world number 17 is now expected to miss that tournament as she battles to be fit for the year's first Grand Slam later this month.
Tournament director Paul McNamee confirmed that Belgium would replace Serbia in the final.
"The rules are very clear. In the round robin if a player can't play they can be substituted by another player, but if a player cannot play the final, the team that is second-placed in the group goes through to the final," he said.
McNamee said Ivanovic had not realized the severity of her injury until she practiced on Friday morning.
"She was still OK in the mixed (on Thursday), when she was warmed up," he said.
"She felt it this morning and also during practice this morning, she had to stop as she couldn't continue. It is clear she can't play tomorrow."
McNamee said reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone was not in doubt for the Australian Open, despite retiring from her singles match on Friday with an upper leg injury.
Schiavone, who had medical staff strap her right thigh early in the match when she pulled up sore, was locked at 4-4 in the first set with France's Kristina Mladenovic when she threw in the towel.
"No problem," he said when asked if her Australian Open campaign was in doubt.
Earlier in the tournament, world number 39 Yaroslava Shvedova's Australian Open hopes were dashed when she was ruled out for six weeks after suffering a knee injury.