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Sharapova out of Brisbane tournament
By Laine Clark and Jim Morton
19:30 AEST Tue Jan 1 2013

The "Queensland curse" might have struck again for Maria Sharapova but the world No.2 believes her Australian Open plans are still on track.

The reigning French Open champion has been forced to pull out of the Brisbane International for the third time in as many attempts after being restricted at training by a collarbone complaint.

It added to a horror run for the Brisbane event's big names that also claimed sixth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova on Tuesday.

The world No.8 and Wimbledon champion was upset 6-4 7-5 in the second round by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, ensuring five of the top eight women's seeds had fallen within the first three days.

But Sharapova, 25, did not feel she had to turn her luck around ahead of the year's opening grand slam which starts on January 14.

The Russian glamour was quick to remind a media conference on Tuesday that she withdrew from last year's Brisbane event due to injury, only to defy the form guide and storm into the Australian Open final which she lost to Victoria Azarenka.

"It is much more important to be healthy than go out and play a lot of matches - last year was a good example," she said.

"I know how important it is just to be healthy going into a big tournament rather than having a lot of matches and feeling you are not prepared."

Sharapova pulled out of last year's tournament with an ankle injury before even arriving in Brisbane and, in 2007, she was a late withdrawal from the event which was then hosted by the Gold Coast.

Alarm bells were ringing for Brisbane organisers again when Sharapova withdrew from a recent exhibition event in South Korea due to a neck complaint.

The four-time grand slam winner smiled when asked if she suffered from a "Queensland curse".

"No, not at all. Sometimes it just doesn't work out," she said.

"Leave it up to me to find something new (injury).

"I just ran out of time here."

Sharapova will head straight to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open.

She said her recent injury was "not at all" related to the shoulder complaint that had plagued her since 2008.

Sharapova's withdrawal is a boost for Australian wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova, who was due to face the Russian in the second round.

Instead, Gajdosova will on Wednesday play world No.116 Lesia Tsurenko from Ukraine, a lucky loser from qualifying who earns promotion into the main draw because Sharapova hadn't played a match due to her first-round bye.

Victory for Gajdosova would vault her into a quarter-final with Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, who upset fifth-seeded French Open runner-up Sara Errani 6-4 1-6 7-5 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Kvitova - an asthmatic - said she had been troubled by Brisbane's humidity all week and admitted it affected her during the tight 97-minute match on show court 1.

She didn't blame her condition for the loss but was looking forward to the drier heat of Sydney and Melbourne, believing she had enough time to turn her form around before the Australian Open.

"I'm not saying I'm really sad right now," she said.

"I had much worse matches before.

"I know that I can play better for sure, and I have to practise."


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