INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - It may not have come the way she wanted it to, but Caroline Wozniacki rounded out the final four at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday, advancing past Victoria Azarenka via walkover after the No.1 seed and defending champion had to withdraw due to a right ankle injury.
Azarenka, who was 17-0 on the season going into it, knew she couldn't play during her warm-up.
"I tested it out as much as possible and tried absolutely everything I could do, but I've been advised by the doctor and by my own team that it's just a very, very high risk already," Azarenka said of the injury. "I mean, it's already really painful right now, but it's at a very high risk to make it much worse.
"I'm very disappointed. Extremely disappointed. Because I feel I'm playing really well right now. I was so excited to be playing here. I love this tournament. But I have to think a little bit in the long term right now. I'm going to be back in Indian Wells next year to play, and I'll be just as excited again.
"But I am very disappointed."
This is traditionally a strong part of the season for Azarenka - not only did she win Indian Wells a year ago, but she is a two-time champion in Miami, in 2009 and 2011 - will she make it there this year?
"I am planning on that," she said. "We'll see how it goes. It's really difficult to predict how it's going to go. The doctor said it might heal quickly - the pain might go down quickly because of the inflammation going down. But the healing process is a little bit unknown... I'll take it day by day. I'm going to give my 200% to do everything I can for treatment. That's going to be my priority, to get ready."
The No.8-seeded Wozniacki's walkover over the No.1-seeded Azarenka completed the quarterfinals in Indian Wells, a tournament Wozniacki has also won - she was the champion here just two years ago.
"Obviously I would have liked to play and get through that way, but it's like it is - I have to focus on the semifinals now," Wozniacki said Thursday. "I always prepare, and I prepare well every time, and I was ready for the match. If the match doesn't happen, I just do what I have to do to get my body ready for the next match. I don't get frustrated, I don't get excited, it's just, you know, it's how it is.
"I just have my own engine going and I need to make sure I'm all good for the next match."
"I don't think this situation favors either one of us," Wozniacki said. "We have had equal amounts of matches and both got ready for our matches today but didn't play - tomorrow we'll be equal out there."
Kerber leads Wozniacki in their head-to-head, 3-2, and won all three of their meetings in 2012 - but the last one of those was the closest of them all, as the German won 6-4 in the third in Beijing.
"Obviously she's a very good player and likes to play here," Wozniacki said of the match-up. "Last year she did very well here as well. It's not going to be an easy match but I'm looking forward to it."