The odds were stacked against the Russian defending her title as recovery from that shoulder injury has taken longer than expected...

It’s official – Sharapova out of Australian Open



Originally published on 26/02/10 11:23

Defending champ Maria Sharapova is now officially out of the Australian Open as the recovery from injury has taken longer than expected.

The 21-year-old Russian has not hit a ball in anger since last August and underwent arthroscopic surgery on her troublesome right shoulder in mid-October but had hoped to be fit to defend her title in Melbourne. Sadly, it sounds like she has been fighting a losing battle to be match-fit for a while now.

“I am just not near the level I need to be to compete”

“I am very sorry to announce that I am not going to be able to defend my title at this year’s Australian Open,” she explained. “My shoulder is doing great, but I just started training a few weeks ago and I am just not near the level I need to be to compete at the highest levels.”

Sharapova dominated last year’s Australian Open, not dropping a set on the way to her third Grand Slam. But she has been missing from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour since August when she withdrew from the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

“The Australian Open is one of my favourite tournaments – they have the best fans in the world and I am going to miss everything about the tournament. I promise I will see everyone next year,” she added.

Tournament Director Craig Tiley admitted he was disappointed for Sharapova. He knows how hard she has been working since the injury, and how desperate she was to defend her title.

“She played some amazing tennis on Rod Laver Arena last year and has a massive legion of fans in Australia,” he said. “I know she has been working around the clock to try and get back from the shoulder injury. In the end, time beat her this year.”

“We wish her well with her return to tennis and look forward to seeing her back in Melbourne next year, Maria is always welcome here.”

Meanwhile, prize money at the tournament has gone up this year, with the singles winners each receiving A$2m (

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