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Henman out of Aus Open

Tim Henman has pulled out of next month's Australian Open after failing to recover from shoulder surgery.

On Sunday the British number one said he felt his shoulder had not recovered sufficiently since undergoing arthroscopic surgery in November.

"This was a very difficult decision to make. I've been working hard and much progress has been made but it's not quite there yet and I've said all along that I was only going to make the trip to Australia if I felt my shoulder was fully recovered," Henman said.

The news is a blow to organisers of the opening grand slam of the year which will also be without last year's semi-finalist Tommy Haas who is also suffering from a shoulder injury.

Pete Sampras has also said he would not make the trip Down Under.

Henman's absence from the Melbourne Park extravaganza means he misses a Grand Slam for the first time since 1995 when he did not compete in Australia or at the French Open. He has been ever-present on the major stages since.

Realistic chance

The world number eight had been due to take part in the invitational Commonwealth Bank International event at Kooyong, which starts on January 8, followed by the first Slam of the year on January 13.

"Obviously the Australian Open is a very important event and one which I was very keen to participate in. I always enjoy my trips to Australia at the beginning of the year and my goal was to try and compete there again if at all possible," Henman said on his personal website.

"However, at this stage of my career I am only interested in making the trip if I feel I can compete with the very best players in the world and have a realistic chance of winning the title.

"Having only just got back onto the practice court I feel I would be rushing my rehabilitation if I was to compete in five-set matches in just over two weeks' time so my long-term health has to come first.

"After all, we're only talking about missing one official event - the first Grand Slam I've missed since 1995 - and that will give me another month to continue my re-hab and hopefully return to action all the better for it."

Huge blow

Henman still hopes to head Down Under in February to represent Britain in the Davis Cup first round clash against Australia.

But Henman's news will come as a blow to captain Roger Taylor who has already lost British number two Greg Rusedski through injury.

"Losing Greg was obviously a huge blow for the team but we've got to try and cope as we did so successfully against Thailand," Henman said.

"I'm planning to travel out to San Diego to hook up with (coach) Larry Stefanki and then, depending on my progress, I could travel straight to Australia from there if I've fully recovered.

"In the meantime I'm going to continue to work hard in the hope that the decisions I'm making now will enable me to regain full fitness and continue to play at the highest level for the next five years."

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