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Maria Sharapova hopes to be fit enough to take part in next month’s Australian Open despite being forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International because of an ankle injury.

The 24-year-old, who has three Grand Slam titles to her name, including the 2008 Australian Open, said:

“I was really looking forward to starting my 2012 season at the Brisbane International, which has a fantastic reputation as a great and welcoming event.

"Unfortunately my ankle is not 100 per cent and I won't be able to make it this year. I do expect to be ready for the year's first Grand Slam and I am really looking forward to competing on court."

Sharapova’s first Grand Slam success came in 2004 at Wimbledon and she went on to win the US Open two years later. Her best displays in the French Open came in 2007 and 2011 when she won through to the semi-finals.

He presence in Melbourne would certainly have an impact for those looking for tennis betting offers.

Meanwhile, Kim Clijsters has distanced herself from reports suggesting she is set to retire from live tennis for a second time next year.

The 28-year-old Belgian, who has won four Grand Slam titles, had suggested that the 2012 Olympic Games in London would be her final major event.

However, Clijsters insisted:

"At the moment I'm not even thinking about the Olympics. I don't think like that. In tennis the season is long and it's tough and I just try to focus on one week at a time.”

Clijsters won the Australian Open in January when she beat China's Li Na in three sets while her three other Grand Slams all came at the US Open - in 2005, 2009 and 2010.
 
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