Safina withdraws from Brisbane International

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


“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


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


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