Belgian Flipkens retires in Abu Dhabi after freak ankle injury

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(Reuters) - Belgian Kirsten Flipkens retired against top-seeded American Sofia Kenin at the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi after suffering a freak left ankle injury during the second round match on Friday.

Flipkens jumped to play a return against Australian Open champion Kenin, who was serving to level the match at 5-7 5-4, and rolled her ankle when she landed against an advertising board behind the baseline.

"I got a little bit upset, quite emotional," Kenin, ranked fourth in the world, told reporters. "We're good friends and that's not something you like to see.

"I just hope she has a speedy recovery and gets ready for Australia. She played a really good match. This is not the way I wanted to win."

The 34-year-old Flipkens, who is currently ranked 86th but was formerly a top 15 player, received treatment on her chair but was unable to continue.

She would hope to recover in time for the Australian Open with the year's first Grand Slam scheduled to start in Melbourne on Feb. 8.

Asked if the WTA and ATP tours should get rid of advertising boards on court, Kenin said: "I think maybe not to get rid of it but just to push it a little bit more back, just for safety.

"You obviously couldn't see this happening. It was just really unfortunate."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Alison Williams)