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Tennis: Injury Forces Safin to Withdraw from Hopman Cup Tournament

A persistent knee problem has forced Australian Open tennis champion Marat Safin of Russia to withdraw from the Hopman Cup mixed-team tennis tournament in Perth, Australia.

Safin has struggled with tendonitis in his right knee. After missing the Paris Masters tournament and season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai in November, Safin says his priority is to get ready to defend his Australian Open title rather than play in the Hopman event.

The Hopman Cup starts Friday with a qualifying match between China and the Netherlands. Safin has been replaced on the Russian team by 20-year-old Teimuraz Gabashvili, who will partner Svetlana Kuznetsova. Russia is in Group-A with the United States, Sweden and Serbia-Montenegro, and will not play until next Tuesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, and Reuters.