Pennetta defies injury to make first quarters

Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:48am EST
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(Reuters) - Italy's Flavia Pennetta advanced to her first Australian Open quarter-final with as much relief as delight on Sunday just weeks after suffering a left wrist injury that she thought could rule her out of the Melbourne Park tournament.

Pennetta had reason to be worried after an injury to her right wrist required surgery in 2012, leading her to spend six months on the sidelines, miss last year's Australian Open and watch her ranking drop to 166 by June.

"It was a really difficult moment, because I didn't know what I had," the 31-year-old told reporters after she advanced to the quarter-finals following a 6-1 4-6 7-5 victory over ninth-seeded German Angelique Kerber.

"I had an MRI (scan) five days after which turned out to be pretty good because my ligament and my tendon were fine," she added of the injury she sustained at the Hopman Cup in Perth and forced her out of the Hobart International. "Just a strain."

Pennetta, who has won nine career titles and broke into the top-10 in 2009, found her original injury and subsequent drop in rankings hard to take.

"The feeling I had was completely not good," she said. "I continued to work in a positive way with my team and with everyone, but in the beginning the results were poor.

"I think I had five or six first rounds in a row."

A run to the fourth round at last year's Wimbledon, however, appeared to indicate an upturn in fortunes and improved her ranking and she then reached the semi-finals at the U.S. Open - her best performance at a grand slam.

"Of course the U.S. Open was really important for me," she said. "Everything just changed, because I think I had tried to play all the time and worked really hard."   Continued...

Flavia Pennetta of Italy celebrates defeating Angelique Kerber of Germany during their women's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 19, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic