Sharapova suffers Australian Open blow
Maria Sharapova's Australian Open hopes have suffered a huge setback after a collarbone injury forced her out of the Brisbane International.
Sharapova, who is the reigning Roland Garros champion and a 2008 winner of the Australian Open, is still expected to feature in two weeks' time but her preparations will be far from ideal.
The Russian has been attempting to regain fitness in time for the Brisbane event, which acts as a useful warm-up ahead of the year's first grand slam in Melbourne. However, her withdrawal was confirmed on Tuesday.
"I don't want to jeopardise what I've gained in the off-season so far," Sharapova said.
Brisbane tournament director Cameron Pearson added: "We feel for Maria because we saw first-hand how badly she wanted to play for the people of Brisbane.
"She has been fantastic since she got here and worked hard in the gym, on court and in the medical room to do everything she could to get herself right. Unfortunately she didn't make it.
"We hope that she can recover sufficiently from the injury to take the court for the Australian Open and wish her all the best for the summer."
All is not lost for the world No. 2, however. Last season Sharapova also missed the Brisbane International yet still managed to reach the Australian Open final, eventually losing to Victoria Azarenka.