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Safina an Aussie doubt after Brisbane withdrawal

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:51

Dinara Safina has officially withdrawn from the Brisbane International with a back injury, leaving her Australian Open status in doubt.

The 23-year-old has been receiving intensive rehabilitation to her lower back at her training base in Monaco since ending the 2009 season as the world No.2 behind Serena Williams.

“At this stage she’s still entered in Sydney and the Australian Open,” said Steve Ayles, tournament director of the January 3-10 event. “We were first up – unfortunately she’s not going to be recovered in time.

“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.”

“I want to be happy going on court and playing without pain”

The former world No.1 first revealed the extent of the injury at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, where she pulled out of her first round robin match against Jelena Jankovic after just 13 minutes in tears.

The Russian later revealed that she had been managing the injury for the latter half of the season, during which time she made a string of early exits, most notably to Petra Kvitova in the third round of the US Open.

Despite that, Safina was happy to have posted her best year-end finish in a year that saw her reach the finals of the Australian Open and Roland Garros, as well as hit top spot in the rankings, but results in Doha saw Serena Williams reclaim top spot from the Russian.

As for her aspirations for 2010, the most important thing for Safina is recovering from my injury and staying healthy. “It’s my first priority,” said the Russian. “Right now I don’t even care how the results go, because once I’m healthy, the results will come.

“The rehab for my back is going pretty good,” she wrote last week in her blog for the WTA Tour website. “I’m almost fully recovered and have been starting to practice again, so it’s definitely going in the right direction. I’m feeling better and better every day.

“I want to be happy going on court and playing without pain. Hopefully I can play fully healthy in Australia and I’ll just go from there.”

Next on the Russian schedule is Sydney, where she is among nine of the world’s top ten to have entered. Only Venus Williams is missing from the line-up as she starts her season at an exhibition event in Asia.

Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, both back from retirement, headline the Brisbane International draw, with Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Dokic also among the field. The Australian Open starts two weeks later on January 18.

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