Muguruza battles illness before Aust Open

Garbine Muguruza has four days to recover from illness before the start of the Australian Open.
Garbine Muguruza has four days to recover from illness before the start of the Australian Open.

Garbine Muguruza's Australian Open preparations have been dealt a blow, with the two-time grand slam winner battling a viral illness.

The Spaniard was forced to withdraw from the Hobart International on Thursday before her quarter-final against Russian Veronika Kudermetova.

"I'm really sad that I had to withdraw from the Hobart International," the 2016 French Open winner and 2017 Wimbledon champion said.

"It's such a special tournament for me and it's been great to return again this year. Thanks to all the wonderful fans and hopefully I can be back."

The world No.34, has four days to recover before Monday's Australian Open, where she'll meet a qualifier in the first round.

Muguruza, desperate to regain the form that saw her reach world No.1 in 2017, made the semi-finals of China's Shenzhen Open to begin the year.

Muguruza had battled through a tough second round against Ons Jabeur in Hobart, the tournament she won six years ago.

Kudermetova has progressed directly to the semi-finals, where she'll meet fourth seed Zhang Shuai who beat American Lauren Davis 6-1 6-4.

Top seed and world No.17 Elise Mertens was stunned 6-7 (7-5) 6-4 7-5 by British qualifier Heather Watson in the night session quarter-final.

Watson played above her world ranking of 101 in a gruelling match that spanned more than three and a half hours including several rain delays.

"What a battle. I thought it was a big test against a top player and one I'd never beaten before," Watson, the 2015 Hobart winner, said.

Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera was looking to continue her run of upsets against third seed Elena Rybakina in the final night match.

Australian Associated Press