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Champion Rybakina, home hope Musetti retire sick from Rome Open

Rome Open champion Elena Rybakina announced on Friday that she has been forced to retire from this year’s tournament with illness.

“I am disappointed to have to withdraw from Rome this year, but unfortunately I do not feel well enough to compete,” world number four Rybakina said in a statement.

“I have such good memories from last year and was looking forward to defending my title.”

Former Wimbledon champion Rybakina was supposed to open her title defence in the Italian capital on Friday against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

Instead the 24-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, has been replaced by lucky loser Oceane Dodin, the world number 73 from France who was eliminated in the second round of qualifying.

Home hope Lorenzo Musetti withdrew from the men’s tournament with a stomach bug and flu-like symptoms midway through his match with France’s Terence Atmane.

World number 29 Musetti was a set and one game down when he gave up the ghost in his second round match with unseeded Atmane.

“I tried with the little strength that I had,” said Musetti.

“The heat and general conditions didn’t help me. I didn’t have the energy. It hurts because Rome is a very important tournament for me.”

The Masters 1000 tournament, which runs until May 19, has had a series of players drop out, with stars Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz both withdrawing from the men’s draw before the start.

Another Italian in Matteo Berrettini opted not to play in his home town, the former world number six saying on Wednesday that he was not ready to play after initially being picked as a wild card and then being put in the main draw to replace the injured Jiri Lehecka.

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