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Kirilenko crowned in Korea

Russian sees off Stosur for third title of season

Maria Kirilenko secured victory at the WTA Korea Open with a battling three-set win over Samantha Stosur in the final.
The top-seeded Russian prevailed 2-6 6-1 6-4 to earn her third title of the season.
Stosur fired down eight aces while dominating the opening set, but then promptly lost 10 of the next 11 games to surrender the second set and fall 4-0 down in the decider.
The powerful Australian, who is yet to win a WTA Tour event, rediscovered her touch to take the next three games and then overcame a 15-30 deficit to stay alive at 5-4 down.
But Kirilenko held her nerve, serving out to love to seal the result.

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Sela falls to A-Rod in China

Sela seen off in three sets as American claims third title of the year

Andy Roddick claimed his third ATP Tour title of the year with a 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 victory over Dudi Sela in the final of the China Open.
The American was forced to work hard for the victory over an opponent ranked 92nd in the world and playing in his first final.
Sela caused plenty of problems coming into the net as he looked to continue his giant-killing that had included knocking out top seed David Ferrer.
Although he lost the opening set having been broken in the fifth game, the Israeli held his nerve in the second set, fending off a match point in the tie-breaker.
He eventually came out on top to level the match, only for Roddick to claim the crucial break in the sixth game of the decider.
Another title

The second seed eventually served out for the match after two hours on court to add the trophy in China to his victories in San Jose and Dubai, which came back in February and March respectively.
He has now won 26 titles in his career and his latest moves him closer to qualifying for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in November.
"I had in the back of my mind that I'd played 30-40 finals and that this was his first one, so I knew that would count for something," he said afterwards.
Sela, who who helped Israel beat Peru to retain its place in the Davis Cup World Group last week, was left to regret faltering on his own serve at 2-3 in the third set, though he was happy with his week's work.
"I showed myself that I can play with the big players," he said.
"You know it's a lot of pressure when you play against (Roddick) because you know you have to keep your serve every time."

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Ivanovic makes progress

Serb star faces rematch with Zheng

World number four Ana Ivanovic beat Alize Cornet 6-1 7-6 to reach the quarter-finals of the China Open.
Ivanovic needed just 30 minutes to close out the first set against the French teenager, before an early break of serve put her in control of the second.
Cornet hit back with two breaks of the Serbian star's serve, but wilted under the pressure of serving for the set and allowed Ivanovic to force a tie-break.
Ivanovic dominated the breaker, winning it for the loss of only one point to move into the last eight.
She will meet China's Zheng Jie for a place in the semi-finals after the home favourite delighted the Beijing crowd with a comprehensive victory over Japan's Ai Sugiyama.
Zheng defeated Ivanovic at Wimbledon earlier this year on her way to becoming the first Chinese woman to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final.
Vera Zvonereva beat Francesca Schiavone in her second-round match and will face Anabel Medina Garrigues in the quarter-finals.
Dominika Cibulkova, who upset eighth seed Anna Chakvetadze 6-3 6-2 on Thursday, will face fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the last eight.

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Ferrer crashes in China

Roddick and Robredo secure second-round victories

Third seed David Ferrer suffered a shock defeat in the second round of the China Open in Beijing.
The Spaniard was beaten 6-3 6-3 by world number 92 Dudi Sela in a match lasting only 70 minutes.
There was no such trouble for second seed Andy Roddick, who cruised past Brendan Evans 6-4 6-3 to book his place in round three.
Sixth seed Tommy Robredo also won in straight sets, beating Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-3.
Ferrer was playing in his first match of the tournament after receiving a bye in the first round and the world number five was comfortably outplayed.
Sela secured an early break of serve to take control of the first set and then broke Ferrer to love in the fifth game of the second to set up his surprise win.

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Djokovic makes winning return

Soderling awaits top seed in quarter-finals

Novak Djokovic won his first ATP Tour match since the US Open to reach the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open.
Djokovic, who has played only one Davis Cup singles rubber since his semi-final defeat to Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows, beat Simon Stadler 6-1 6-3 in Bangkok.
The top seed will face sixth seed Robin Soderling for a place in the last four after the Swede defeated Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-1 6-3.
Djokovic is making his first appearance in Thailand since losing in the first round as a teenage wild card four years ago.
He swept through the opening set in just 22 minutes as world number 141 Stadler's inexperience showed.
The German hit back with a break at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, but Djokovic won six of the next seven games to complete a routine win.
Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, is bidding for his fourth tournament victory of the season.
Nicolas Mahut moved into the last eight by beating Finnish fifth seed Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 3-6 6-3, while there were also wins for Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner.

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French stars to meet

Djokovic safely through to semi-finals

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils will meet for the first time in the semi-finals of the Thailand Open.
The French pair each recorded straight-sets victories in their quarter-final matches in Bangkok to set up their last four showdown.
Australian Open finalist Tsonga beat Jurgen Melzer 6-3 6-2 in just 55 minutes, firing a dozen aces and breaking the Austrian three times.
"It was an easy match," he said. "I played some good tennis, it was much better than my previous match. It's good to reach the semi-finals.
Monfils, the fourth seed, ended German Philipp Petzschner's run with a 7-6 6-4 victory.
However, Czech third seed Tomas Berdych denied another Frenchman a semi-final berth with a 7-6 6-3 win over Nicolas Mahut.
Top seed Novak Djokovic is also through to the last four after beating Sweden's Robin Soderling 6-4 7-5.
The Serb served for the match at 5-3 but he failed to take the opportunity, before taking the match in the 12th game as the the big-serving Soderling struggled to get his first serve into play.
"His game is based on powerful serves," Djokovic said. "I played him several times on different surfaces so I was prepared for a difficult match."

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Giant-killer Sela into semis

Israeli now meets Schuettler in last four

Super-confident Dudi Sela put in another giant-killing display to beat sixth seed Tommy Robredo and reach the China Open semi-finals.
The Israeli beat top seed David Ferrer of Spain on Thursday and then did the business against the world number 16 on Friday, despatching Robredo 6-4 6-1.
But he had to overcome a nervous start when dropping his serve early to trail 3-1 in the first set.
But he then attacked Robredo's serve, firing passing shots and hitting deep into the Spaniard's back-hand to force errors.
The tactic proved effective as a rattled Robredo surrendered the second set and won only 54 percent of his first serves.
Very confident

"I felt very confident. I knew that I had nothing to lose today ... I knew that at this moment I am playing very good and that I can win, and it paid off," said Sela, who admitted to riding on a wave of confidence since helping Israel beat Peru to break into the Davis Cup World Group on Sunday.
He added: "I knew that I had to attack him, because if not, he was going to move me around."
Sela now faces a semi-final clash with seventh seed Rainer Schuettler of Germany, who upset French world number 12 Richard Gasquet 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Second seed Andy Roddick battled his way past Juan Carlos Ferrero to book a semi-final date with Bjorn Phau of Germany, who upset third seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-3 4-6 6-3.
Roddick looked uneasy in the opening set against the Spaniard, smashing his racquet in frustration as he fell behind thanks to some poor serving.
However, the 26-year-old soon found his rhythm and sent down 23 aces in all as he clinched victory 2-6 6-3 6-4.
"That racket didn't want to be here any more, so I let it out... I was pretty upset and pretty fed up with the way I was playing," the American said.
Phau, ranked 137th in the world, caused a major upset by defeating Gonzalez, running the Spaniard ragged as he reached his first ATP semi-final.

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Zheng through to last four

Chinese player dumps second seed out of tournamen

Home favourite Zheng Jie beat former world number one Ana Ivanovic to reach the semi-finals of the China Open on Friday.
The Chinese player had beaten Ivanovic at Wimbledon and again proved her conqueror with a 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-4 win over the second seed in a marathon quarter-final clash lasting almost three hours.
China's world number 30 took the first set on a tie-break after the Serbian world number four had wasted two chances to serve for the set.
But the French Open champion then fought her way back, taking the second set despite an error-strewn display.
Held nerve

But Zheng broke the Ivanovic serve in the first game of the third set and - despite further breaks for both players - she held her nerve to take the decider.
Her victory means she has matched the best-ever performance by a Chinese player at the tournament when Peng Shuai reached the semi-finals in 2006.
She will now take on fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova after the Russian beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-4.
Top seed Jelena Jankovic beat Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-1 to set up a semi-final clash against fifth seed Vera Zvonareva who defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-0, 6-1 in just 51 minutes.

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Sela through to final

Sela becomes first Israeli to reach an ATP final since 2000

Unseeded Dudi Sela continued his giant-killing run by beating seventh seed Rainer Schuettler to reach the final of the China Open.
He beat his opponent 6-3, 6-3 to get into his first final of an ATP event, where he will face either second-seed Andy Roddick or unseeded Bjorn Phau.
Ranked only 92 in the ATP rankings, he was quickly into his stride, breaking the error-prone Schuettler three times in the opening set.
The 23-year-old then forced what proved to be a decisive break in the sixth game of the second set.
Speaking afterwards, he said reaching an ATP final had been a "dream" since breaking into the top 100 of the world rankings.
Very nervous

"Before the match I was very nervous because I wanted to be in the final," he said.
"For the final I have nothing to lose."
Sela's giant-killing run includes victories over top seed and world number five David Ferrer and sixth-seeded Tommy Robredo.
If he goes on to win in China, he will become the first Israeli to take an ATP singles title since Amos Mansdorf in 1993.
The last Israeli to reach a singles final was Harel Levy in 2000 when he lost to Marat Safin in the final of a Toronto event.
The last Israeli to reach a singles final was Harel Levy in 2000 when he lost to Marat Safin in the final of a Toronto event.

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Kirilenko wins through

Russian will play Stosur in Sunday's showpiece

Maria Kirilenko reached her second successive Korea Open final after a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Kaia Kanepi on Saturday.
The top seed, who lost to Venus Williams in the final last year, will now face Samantha Stosur in Sunday's showpiece after the Australian beat Jill Craybas 6-0, 6-1.
Kirilenko won the first set after racing to a 5-1 lead, but Kanepi broke serve in the fourth game of the second set and held on to draw the match level.
She then started the final set strongly, breaking serve in the first game before conceding several unforced errors which let Kirilenko regain her composure and hold on for the match, winning in two hours 18 minutes.
Really difficult

Kirilenko, who is now going for her third title this year after winning at Estoril and Barcelona, said: "Today was so difficult. I was down 2-0 in the third set, and every game was really difficult.
"I'm really happy to get through all of this."
Stosur breezed into Sunday's final after combining a powerful serve and well-timed returns to beat Craybas in just 45 minutes.
The Australian, who is after her first WTA singles title, said: "I played very well. I didn't really do anything wrong, and just never let Jill get into it.
"I'm very, very happy with the way I played."
Stosur and Kirilenko have played each other three times before, with the Australian winning twice.

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Djokovic books Tsonga clash

Frenchman has chance to avenge Melbourne defeat

Novak Djokovic will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a battle of the top seeds in the final of the Thailand Open on Sunday.
The top ranked Djokovic impressed with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych while second seed Tsonga cruised to a 6-0 6-3 triumph over fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Djokovic had fortune on his side when he clinched a close first set with a powerful backhand that crashed off the top of the net and landed way out of the Czech's reach.
And although the second set was a more straight forward affair, fourth seed Berdych was unfortunate to go down by such a wide margin after competing well on most points.
"I felt as if I woke up from the dream in the second set. I felt sleepy in the first set," Djokovic said. "But in the second set I broke him twice. He had bad service games and I took the opportunities."
The second semi-final was a much more lop-sided affair with Tsonga rapidly gaining confidence after an injury lay-off.
The match between the two French stars was much anticipated but it was the Australian Open runner-up who dominated from the outset.
In only his second tournament since undergoing knee surgery in May, the world number 20 stormed through the first set in just 21 minutes, and although Monfils finally got on the scoreboard early in the second it was still one-way traffic.
Tsonga's victory set up the chance to avenge his defeat to Djokovic in the the Melbourne final, when the Serb clinched his first Grand Slam title.
"It will be a different match and different conditions, but it would be my chance to take my revenge," he said.

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Special Thai for Tsonga

Frenchman gets revenge for Australian Open defeat in Bangkok

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga claimed his maiden ATP Tour title and with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic, the man he had lost to in the Australian Open final.
The duo had faced off aganst each other in the first Grand Slam of the season, Djokovic coming out on top to end the giant-killing run of his opponent.
However Frenchman Tsonga got his revenge in Bangkok, triumphing in straight sets in 92 minutes after only recently returning to action following knee surgery.
The world number 20 had to save two break points in the final game before sealing victory, sinking to his knees having finally ended his wait for a first title.
Very special

"This win is very special, I've wanted this since I was young," Tsonga said. "This is a dream come true. I'm happy to win, Novak is a great player."
"I was nervous about playing him, it's difficult with my game. If you hit the ball hard at him, he hits it back harder.
"In tennis, you have to enjoy the moment. It's great to win at last and I want to win more and more."
Defeat for Djokovic, only his 14th of the year, denies him the chance to move closer to second-placed Roger Federer in the world rankings.
He had no answer to plenty of inch-perfect drop shots from Tsonga in a tight opening set that went to a tie break, before then losing his serve crucially in the ninth game of the second.
The Serb, who was the top seed in Thailand, has now not won a tournament since the Masters Series in Rome back in May.
"I lost against a great player," he said. "Jo wisely used his opportunities and deserved to win his first title.
"I played a bit too defensive today. You have to take your opportunities and I didn't.

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Mauresmo splits from coach
Frenchwoman acts after dismal season

Amelie Mauresmo has split from long-time coach Loic Courteau following a dramatic loss of form.
Courteau guided Mauresmo to the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2006, as well as top spot in the world rankings.
But the Frenchwoman has since dropped down the rankings to number 25, prompting her decision to part company with Courteau.
"I probably need a little new motivation, a revival, a new dynamic in training, preparation and also in daily life," Mauresmo said on her official website.
"We spoke freely and honestly about one another. We talked about it for several months. We wondered if there were still things we could do.
"We came to this conclusion at the end of one year, one year and a half, and it was difficult for the two parties."
Mauresmo will not be rushed into appointing a new coach, adding: "I need to take the time to know what I want exactly.

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Nishikori delights home fans
Teenager battles through to second round

Japanese tyro Kei Nishikori thrilled the home fans with a three-set victory over American Robert Kendrick in the first round of the Japan Open.

The 18-year-old, who in February became the first Japanese player to win on the tour for 16 years, overcame the loss of the second set to win through 7-6 6-7 6-2 in a little over two hours.

Nishikori finally seized control of the match when he broke Kendrick with crosscourt forehand to claim a 3-2 lead in the final set, and a further break sealed his passage into the second round in Tokyo.

There he will play 16th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who earned a bye through the first round.

"I'm happy and I feel relieved," he said. "Last year, I was nervous and I couldn't play my game at all. This time, I have a lot of confidence. I just enjoyed it. I felt comfortable.

"He is a big server. He served really well. I could do nothing against him on this surface. But I had expected to have my chances and I took it in the final set to break him.

"The break points were the biggest key to today's win. I shouldn't miss a single chance against such a big server."

Meanwhile, in the women's draw former world number Kimiko Date made an unsuccessful return to the tour after an 11 year absence, losing 6-3 6-1 to the sixth seed Shahar Peer.

Date, who has won three minor titles since her return in April, required a wild card to gain entry to an event she won four times in the past.

However, she struggled with her serve throughout as the Israeli cruised into the second round.

"It's not easy to fill the blank of 11 years and a half," said the 38-year-old. "Today's loss left me with a mixed feeling. I was disappointed, but it's not so bad considering that it's impossible to do in only five months.

"Of course, I was disappointed, but I'm going to take it positively."


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Venus powers on in Porsche
Groenefeld no match in opening round for sixth-seeded American

Venus Williams cruised through to the second round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

The American, seeded sixth for the tournament, had few problems against a player who is making her comeback after nine months out of action.

Her biggest challenge came when she was attempting to close out the first set, something she eventually achieved at the fourth time of asking.

The second set was just as straightforward, two early breaks giving Williams a comfortable cushion before she clinched victory on her second match point.

"She hit some great shots but my experience helped me," said the 28-year-old former world number one.

Williams has not played at the event since 1998 when she also made it through to the second round. She will next face qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko.

The Ukrainian came back from a set down to upset 15th-ranked Flavia Pennetta 4-6 6-2 6-1.

There was no such problems for eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, as she swept past Sandra Zahlavova 6-3 6-2.

Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva all received a bye in the first round as the top four seeds.


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Rusedski has no plans to play
Former British number one focused on other commitments

Greg Rusedski has ruled out speculation that he may come out of retirement to play for Great Britain in the Davis Cup.

The former British number one retired from tennis 17 months ago and now works as a talent scout among other commitments.

But speculation has arisen he could play for Britain after the national team were relegated from the Davis Cup's World Group last weekend following a 3-2 loss to Austria.

Reports suggested he could play in their next match against the Ukraine in May to help them regain their place in the top tier of the competition.

But Rusedski's spokesperson Sharon Park said on Tuesday that the 35-year-old has no plans to return.

"Greg has retired and he has no plans to return to professional tennis," she said.

"He is focused on his role (as a talent scout) at the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and other commitments."


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Champ battles on in Tokyo
Home favourite Nishikori extends his impressive form

Defending champion David Ferrer recovered from a second set lapse against Jesse Levine to book his place in the third round of the Japan Open.

The Spanish world number five, chasing a berth at the ATP Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, was not at his very best against his left-handed American opponent, but found his form in time to secure a 6-4 4-6 6-1 victory.

Ferrer closed out a tight first set when he chased down a drop-shot and ripped a cross-court forehand past his rival.

But he took his foot off the accelerator at the start of the second allowing Levine to snatch an early break.

It was an advantage the world number 101 held on to as he served out for the set with a big delivery down the middle.

However, Ferrer came on strong in the final set with a series of heavy, accurate groundstrokes overpowering Levine.

Indeed, the Spaniard sealed his passage with an ace and will now have his eyes set on a second straight title in Tokyo.

"I don't care about Shanghai now," insisted Ferrer after match. "I'm just focusing on this tournament.

"I have three more tournaments before Shanghai. It's another week. What is important for me is to play well and take more confidence with me."

Local favourite Kei Nishikori delighted the home crowds as he continued his progress at the tournament with a straight sets win over 16th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

The impressive teenager, who already has an ATP Tour title to his name this term, proved too slick for his Spanish rival as he claimed a 6-4 6-4 win.
Seeds march on

Seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to battle back from a set down before seeing off American Bobby Reynolds 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, but there were comfortable straight set wins for sixth seed Tommy Robredo, eighth seed Mikhail Youzhny and ninth seed Tomas Berdych against Joseph Sirianni of Australia, Flavio Cipolla of Italy and Croat Roko Karanusic respectively.

Elsewhere, Jarkko Nieminen, Jurgen Melzer and Rainer Schuettler progressed, while Amer Delic got the better of his all-American battle with Sam Querrey winning 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

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Serena stunned in Stuttgart
Swiss star wins in three sets to face Petrova in second round

Serena Williams' hopes of driving off with the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart came to abrupt end when she was knocked out in the second round by Li Na.

The American succumbed 0-6 6-1 6-4 to her Chinese opponent to lose her opening match in the tournament.

It had looked like the recent US Open champion would cruise through when she raced through the opening set in just 21 minutes.

However, Li came to life after the early setback, putting Williams under increasing pressure before securing a shock result with an ace.

"I just started to make a lot of errors," admitted Williams afterwards. "I pretty much gave it to her, it was like I said: 'Here you go, you have a win today'.
Fought hard

"Maybe I started to doubt myself, I made a lot of mistakes which helps her cause. She played really well, especially in the third set where she just fought for everything."

Patty Schnyder continued her fine run of form by upsetting fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round action on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Swiss player, who won her first title in three years in Bali this month, beat her Russian opponent 6-4 4-6 7-5 in two hours and five minutes.

She served strongly throughout to set up match-point and clinched victory when Kuznetsova's attempted backhand winner drifted wide.

Schnyder will now go on to face another Russian, Nadia Petrova in the second round after she beat Czech player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2 6-2.

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Federer swerves Stockholm
US Open champion hopes to return before end of year

Roger Federer has withdrawn from next week's Stockholm Open in an effort to conserve his physical fitness.

The world number two, who lost the top ranking to Rafael Nadal earlier in the season, is taking an extended break following his recent exertions at the US Open, where he claimed his 13th Grand Slam title.

"I was always playing catch up after being diagnosed with mononucleosis at the beginning of the year," Federer said in a statement released by tournament organisers.

"I feel fortunate to be healthy again, but I want to remain at the top of the game for many more years to come and go after the number one ranking again.

"In order to do that, I need to get a proper rest and get strong again so that I am 100 percent fit for the remainder of the year or next year.

"At this point, I am not sure when I will be ready to play again, but I hope to be back at some point before the end of the year."

The Stockholm Open takes place from October 6-12, with world number seven David Nalbandian now the top seed.
Kooyong Classic

But looking to the future, Federer is set to play in the Kooyong Classic in January as part of his Australian Open preparations.

The Swiss ace missed last year's eight-man exhibition event with a stomach virus before then bowing out in the semi-finals of the opening grand slam to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

World number nine Stanislas Wawrinka and number 10 James Blake are the only other top-10 ranked players so far confirmed for the event.

The field also includes Marat Safin, Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Gonzalez and Ernests Gulbis.

Tournament director Colin Stubs, who has yet to decide who will fill the eighth place in the draw, said world number one Rafael Nadal planned to rest the week before the Australian Open.

"At the moment Nadal is probably going to do that, although he's got a fairly good reason, he's got some bad knee problems and he doesn't want to extend himself physically a week before a grand slam, which is fair enough," Stubs said.

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Sharapova ends season
Russian ace to miss WTA Tour Championships in Qatar

Russian ace Maria Sharapova has ended her season after failing to regain full fitness from a shoulder injury which has sidelined her since August.

The former world number one will now miss the season-ending WTA Tour Championships, being held in Doha, Qatar for the first time from November 4-9.

She told her official website that while the injury was healing, she still needed more time to make absolutely certain so, along with her team, had decided not play again this term.

It is a disappointing end to a season which had started so brightly when the Russian won the Australian Open in January and regained the world number one spot.

But she lost in straight sets to Russian compatriot Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round at Wimbledon and - after her shoulder injury worsened - she was forced to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics and the US Open.