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Halep withdraws from St. Petersburg event with knee injury

Simona Halep,Ana Konjuh

Simona Halep of Romania returns the ball to Ana Konjuh of Croatia during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2017 tennis tournament match in St.Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)


ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Simona Halep withdrew from the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Friday because of a knee injury, the same issue that she blamed for her opening-round loss at the Australian Open.

The fourth-ranked Romanian had said she was pain-free after her win over Ana Konjuh this week.

Halep was the top-seeded player in St. Petersburg. Her withdrawal sends Russian wild-card entry Natalia Vikhlyantseva into the semifinals, matching her best showing at a WTA tournament.

Vikhlyantseva, ranked 115th in the world, will next play Kristina Mladenovic, who beat defending champion Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-4.

Also, second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova advanced by beating fifth-seeded Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3. The Slovak will next face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Yulia Putintseva.