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Tennis: Sharapova Withdraws from Australian Hard Court Championships


Former world number one and Wimbledon tennis champion Maria Sharapova of Russia has withdrawn from next month's Australian women's hard court championships because of a shoulder injury.

Sharapova said in a statement that the shoulder strain forced her pullout from the January second to seventh event in Gold Coast. The Russian star said she is not sure she will be ready to play in the Australian Open, the first major tournament of 2006.

Sharapova reached the semi-finals in three of the four major tournaments in 2005 and won three tournaments on the WTA tour. Her injury hindered her performance in the second half of the season.

The Aussie women's hard court tournament will also mark the return of another former world number one player - Martina Hingis of Switzerland will play in the event and plans to play in the Australian Open beginning January 16.

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