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18 Jul 2012

Kanepi injury hands Olympic debut to Duque-Marino


Photo: ImagellanKaia Kanepi (EST)

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi has been forced to pull out of the women's singles at London 2012 with a heel injury, providing Colombia's Mariana Duque-Marino with the chance to make her first Olympic appearance.

Kanepi was also sidelined from Wimbledon with the heel problem and it appears her recovery didn't come quick enough to allow her to play at her third Olympic Games, having performed at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

"An ultrasound examination showed on Tuesday that Kaia’s heels have not recovered as fast as hoped and she has to withdraw from the London Olympic Games. Her doctor Madis Rahu said that increasing practice intensity now would eventually lead to an even longer injury break," read a statement on the world No. 16's website.

“It’s very sad that I cannot participate in the Olympics. I do not know if I will ever get another chance to participate in the Olympic Games. At the moment all I want is my legs to be ok and that I could play tennis without feeling any pain," added Kanepi.

The news will come as a blow to the Estonian Olympic team as the 27-year-old is one of the country's star athletes. However, Kanepi's loss is Duque-Marino's gain and the Colombian comes in to make her Olympic debut.

Although she has never played at the Olympics before, the 22-year-old, who will turn 23 on the day of the Olympic closing ceremony, has already represented Colombia in 31 Fed Cup ties since making her debut as a 16-year-old in 2005.

Duque-Marino, ranked No. 117 in the world, has gained an ITF Place into the women's singles with Hungary's Timea Babos stepping up to receive Direct Acceptance in place of Kanepi.

Babos was granted an ITF Place last week when Romania's Monica Niculescu withdrew, but because the Hungarian is the next highest ranked player on the alternate list she has been bumped up to get Direct Acceptance, paving the way for Duque-Marino.