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Aryna Sabalenka out of BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after positive COVID-19 test

Aryna Sabalenka tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells; the Belarusian joins world No 1 Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka in missing the prestigious tournament held in the California desert

Aryna Sabalenka,of Belarus, reacts after losing a point to Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, during the semifinals of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Image: Aryna Sabalenka will miss Indian Wells after testing positive for coronavirus

World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka has been ruled out of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after testing positive for coronavirus.

The Belarusian was due to be the top seed for the tournament after the withdrawal of No 1-ranked Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty, who decided to head back to Australia having not been home since March.

In an Instagram post, Sabalenka wrote: "Unfortunately I've tested positive at Indian Wells and won't be able to compete. I've started my isolation and I'll be staying here until I'm cleared by the doctors and health officials. So far I'm feeling OK but really sad to not be able to play this year."

The tournament in the California desert would have been Sabalenka's first competitive event since her loss to Leylah Fernandez in the semi-finals of the US Open.

The 23-year-old is one of a number of tennis players to have publicly expressed hesitancy about receiving the vaccine, saying earlier this year that she did not trust it.

The women's draw will also be missing Naomi Osaka, who is taking another break from the sport.

Indian Wells is one of the most prestigious stops on the WTA and ATP Tour and the tournament is being held in the autumn for the first time after its postponement in March.

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US Open champion Emma Raducanu will make her first appearance since her brilliant title run in New York last month and was pictured training at the venue on Saturday.

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