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Fruhvirtova, 16, becomes youngest player in Miami fourth round since 2004

MIAMI (AFP) – Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova on Sunday became the youngest player to reach the last 16 of the Miami Open since 2004 when former world number one Victoria Azarenka retired from their third round match.

The 16-year-old arrived at the tournament with a world ranking of 279 but she dominated the two-time Australian Open winner, racing into a 6-2, 3-0 lead before the veteran Belarusian quit.

Azarenka, 32, who broke down in tears during her defeat to Elena Rybakina at Indian Wells earlier this month, looked out of sorts throughout against the impressive Fruhvirtova.

“I don’t know what happened at the end,” Fruhvirtova told AFP.

“She was struggling with some injuries. I don’t know but it was an honour to share the court with her. You never want to end the match this way but it happens. We shook hands and then she walked off.”

It was not immediately clear why Azarenka retired although later in the evening the former world number one, who also deleted her social media accounts in the wake of her problems at Indian Wells, released a statement citing personal issues.

“I shouldn’t have gone on the court today. The last few weeks have been extremely stressful in my personal life,” she said.

“Last match took so much out of me, but I wanted to play in front of a great audience as they helped me pull through my first match. I wanted to go out there and try but it was a mistake.

“I hope to take a break and be able to come back.”

Linda Fruhvirtova serves to Victoria Azarenka. PHOTO: AFP
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