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I hope to be fit for Australian Open: Sharapova

Los Angeles, Dec 31: World class badminton player Maria Sharapova hopes to have a great year in the coming new year. In a statement posted on her website Sharapova, who pulled out of the JB Group Classic team tennis tournament, said she regret the decision. But she hopes to be fit to defend her title at the Australian OPne in Jan.

"It's with much disappointment that I have to withdraw from Hong Kong. I've been using this event for the last five years to get match fit and ready for the new season, in fact Hong Kong has been successful in preparing me for the Australian Open," she said.

Sharapova who launched her 2008 season in style with victory in Australian open was hindered by a right shoulder injury. She skipped the Beijing Olympics and the US Open before undergoing arthroscopic surgery in October.

The 21-year-old said, "I'm just not ready to play against the top class competition in Hong Kong, although I remain hopeful for Australia where I'm the defending champion." The first Grand Slam of the season, Australian Open is set to start on Jan 19.

The Hong Kong event has a new format this year, featuring four teams - Europe, Russia, Team Americas and Asia Pacific. Top players slated to appear include world number one Jelena Jankovic and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams.

Oneindia News (With inputs from Agencies)

Story first published: Wednesday, December 31, 2008, 14:36 [IST]
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