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Halep withdraws from St. Petersburg event with knee injury

February 3, 2017
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia returns the ball to Elena Vesnina of Russia during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament quarterfinal match in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia returns the ball to Elena Vesnina of Russia during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament quarterfinal match in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — 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.

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