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Simona Halep withdraws from St. Petersburg event with knee injury

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Simona Halep withdrew from the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Friday because of a knee injury, the same issue that she blamed for her opening-round loss at the Australian Open.

The fourth-ranked Romanian had said she was pain-free after her win over Ana Konjuh this week.

Halep was the top-seeded player in St. Petersburg. Her withdrawal sends Russian wild-card entry Natalia Vikhlyantseva into the semifinals, matching her best showing at a WTA tournament.

Vikhlyantseva, ranked 115th in the world, will next play Kristina Mladenovic, who beat defending champion Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-4.

Also, second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova advanced by beating fifth-seeded Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3.

The Slovak will face Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who surprised third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-5.