January 6, 2020 / 3:51 AM / 5 months ago

Tennis: Kuznetsova, Ostapenko pull out of Auckland Classic

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 2, 2018 Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova in action during the first round match against Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

(Reuters) - Former Grand Slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko have pulled out of this week’s Auckland Classic, organizers confirmed on Monday.

Russian Kuznetsova, 34, was set to face Serena Williams at the event, a traditional warmup for the Australian Open, but pulled out due to a viral illness, while 22-year-old Ostapenko withdrew for “personal reasons”.

It is another setback for the tournament, which who saw U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu withdraw with a knee issue.

"Due to the withdrawal of Ostapenko and Kuznetsova, two lucky losers have found spots in the main draw," organizers said on Twitter here, with American Usue Maitane Arconada and Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure the fortunate pair.

Williams will now face Italy’s Camila Giorgi while Latvian Ostapenko’s first-round opponent, Laura Siegemund of Germany, takes on Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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