Safina withdraws from Brisbane International

BY foxsports • December 16, 2009

Dinara Safina withdrew Friday from next month's Brisbane International because of a bad back, leaving her status for the Australian Open in doubt.

Safina, the former top-ranked player in the world, had hoped to return from injury at the Brisbane event and start tuning up for the first major of 2010. But tournament director Steve Ayles said Safina's back problem will prevent her from playing Jan. 3-10 at Brisbane.

``At this stage she's still entered in Sydney and the Australian Open. We were first up ... unfortunately she's not going to be recovered in time,'' Ayles said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

``I know she would have been working around the clock to try to be ready for the event, but in the end time beat her and she is still undergoing treatment.''

The Sydney tournament will feature most of the women's top 10 in the week before the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 18 in Melbourne.

Safina tearfully withdrew from the WTA Championships with a serious back injury in October, a problem she originally thought could keep her out of the Australian Open. But she signed on for the Brisbane tournament only two days later.

The Russian player lasted only 13 minutes in her first round-robin match of the season-ending championships before retiring while serving at 1-1 against Jelena Jankovic. Safina's withdrawal meant she lost the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams.

Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, both back from retirement, headline the Brisbane International women's draw, along with Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Dokic. The tournament is in its second year.

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