RUSSIAN star Maria Sharapova is banking on her experience and past record for success at the Australian Open after pulling out of the Brisbane International yesterday.
Citing inflammation of the right collarbone, the world No. 2 said she didn't want to jeopardise her preparation for the grand slam tournament starting on January 14 by risking further injury.
"I have my own fair share of experience and know that it's much more important to be healthy to go into a big tournament like the Australian Open than to go into something big with a lot of matches and feel like you're not prepared health-wise," she said.
Sharapova has a history of succeeding in major tournaments with little match practice.
She pulled out of the Brisbane tournament last year but went on to make the final of the Australian Open, losing the title to Victoria Azarenka.
The 2012 French Open champion said her latest injury had been troubling her for about 10 days, and she only started practising her serve and overhead shots again this week.
"Just a couple days of serving is not really enough to go out (today) and compete at a high level," she said.
"It's much more important for me to go into something like the Australian Open believing and knowing that I'm healthy, that I'm confident. I don't exactly need to play five tournaments in order to feel that way."
Lucky loser Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine will take Sharapova's place today in the second-round match against Australian Jarmila Gajdosova.
Azarenka, the top seed and defending champion in the women's draw, is also on court today against Germany's Sabine Lisicki.
Australian qualifier John Millman has a big day ahead, facing the men's top seed and defending champion Andy Murray in the second round.
The match will be the first for the Scot on Australian soil this summer after a first-round bye.
Millman had the support of a vocal home crowd yesterday as he took out Tatsuma Ito 6-4, 6-1 to record the first win against his Japanese opponent in four meetings.
It was a great start to 2013 for the 23-year-old who was also given a wildcard into the Australian Open after taking his ranking from 541 to 199 in the past 12 months.
Fellow Queenslander Ashleigh Barty, playing in the Hopman Cup this week, also received a wildcard for the Open