Injury hands Cornet Hobart semi spot

France’s Alize Cornet is the first player through to the semi-finals of the Hobart tennis international after the withdrawal of injured opponent Mona Barthel.

The German world No.45 on Thursday announced a lower back injury had forced her to abandon the tournament where she was champion in 2012.

There is uncertainty over her fitness ahead of the Australian Open, where she made the second round in 2015.

Barthel, 25, had to resort to painkillers on Wednesday to complete her match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka, after feeling a pinch that she had not experienced before.

She had hoped intense treatment would mean she could contest her quarter-final scheduled for late Thursday, but withdrew several hours beforehand.

Rain has interrupted play on day five in Hobart where Dominika Cibulkova leads 6-5 against Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens.

Bertens started strongly but was reeled in by the Slovakian before a downpour suspended play.

Defending champion Heather Watson is due to resume her rain-delayed round-two match against Romanian Monica Niculescu.

The pair were forced to abandon play on Wednesday night at 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 1-3 with Watson leading in the third, as thunderstorms passed over the southern capital.

Thursday’s schedule also includes former world No.5 Eugenie Bouchard’s meeting with tournament No.2 seed Camila Giorgi.

The winner of Watson and Niculescu is due to face Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

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