Marin Cilic withdraws from Australian Open with shoulder injury

Roger Federer one short of 1,000 wins; Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams take titles

Tennis round-up: US Open champion Marin Cilic has withdrawn from the Australian Open because of a shoulder injury, the world number nine said on Saturday.

The 26-year-old has been struggling with a right shoulder problem for more than a month and the Croatian skipped the Brisbane International in the hope of recovering in time for the season’s first Grand Slam beginning in Melbourne on January 19th.

“I am really disappointed to announce that I had to withdraw from the Australian Open,” Cilic said in a statement on his website (www.marin-cilic.net).

“I was advised by doctors to be careful as much as possible to avoid even more serious problems.

“It is improving day by day, but I still don’t feel fit enough to be able to compete at the highest level.”

Roger Federer moved to within one win of his 1,000 career victory when he crushed Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final of the Brisbane International.

The Swiss maestro produced a masterclass display to brush aside his young challenger, dubbed “Baby Fed”, 6-2 6-2 in just 53 minutes.

Federer will now play Milos Raonic in Sunday's final after the big-serving Canadian blasted 34 aces past Kei Nishikori to win the first semi-final 6-7 (4) 7-6 (4) 7-6 (4).

If Federer wins his 83rd career title on Sunday he will join Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl as just the third man to chalk up 1,000 ATP match wins.

“It’s a goal for the season, so I still have time to get to a thousand,” he said. “I hope it’s tomorrow, clearly.

“It’s a really big number, no doubt about it. Love to get it tomorrow, especially in the finals in an ATP event where most of my wins have come.

“If not tomorrow, I hope it happens at the Australian Open. Been a lot of the matches, a lot of toughening out plays.”

Maria Sharapova beat Ana Ivanovic in the final of the Brisbane International on Saturday in a display that bodes well for her chances at the Australian Open.

It has been seven years since Sharapova won her only win in the event but if she can take her form from Brisbane to Melbourne, a second title does not seem out of the question.

Sharapova had to work hard to beat Ivanovic, coming from behind to beat her 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3 but the Serbian is a good measuring stick.

She not only beat Ivanovic in the 2008 Australian Open final but both women are in devastating form heading towards the tournament.

“I played four good matches against very different types of opponents,” Sharapova said. “I couldn’t have asked for better preparation.”

Winning the Brisbane International provided Sharapova with her 34th WTA career title and her fifth in the last nine months, a red-hot span in which she also captured a second French Open and a first China Open.

The 27-year-old has won at least one title every year since 2003, an unbroken streak of 15 years.

Agnieszka Radwanska showed why she should be considered among the favourites for the women's title in Melbourne by beating world number one Serena Williams and helping Poland to its first Hopman Cup title in Perth on Saturday.

World number five Radwanska claimed a 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-1 win to put her country 1-0 up against the United States and returned to partner Jerzy Janowicz and beat Williams and John Isner 7-5 6-3 in doubles as Poland became the 13th nation to win the mixed team event.

Isner had overcome Janowicz 7-6 (10) 6-4 in the other singles to haul the US back into the contest.

“When I go and play against her, you have nothing really to lose, she is number one in the world and a great champion,” Radwanska told reporters of her singles victory.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is. It’s never over, she’s a great fighter. I’m just very happy that I could come back after that second set and play my good game in the third set. Wins like this always give a lot of confidence.”

World number three Simona Halep refused to let illness beat her as she collected her ninth WTA Tour title by downing Timea Bacsinszky in the Shenzhen Open final in a 6-2 6-2 rout.

Swiss Bacsinszky had beaten double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in the semis but she couldn't make an impression on an unwell Halep.

“I wasn’t feeling very well before the match – I was a little bit sick – so I told myself I have nothing to lose, just go on court, be relaxed, stay focused and fight for every point,” Halep explained.

“It worked, and I felt really relaxed today. I’m happy I could play better day by day and match by match here. I’m looking forward to playing like today in the next tournament, maybe even better.”

Romanian star Halep becomes only the second winner of the Shenzhen Open after Li Na claimed the first two editions.

The retired Chinese great followed each victory by going on to make the final at the Australian Open but Halep was cautious when asked if she could replicate the feat.

“It’s tough to answer that question. You never know what will happen day by day,” said the 23-year-old, who reached the final of the French Open and the quarters in Melbourne last year.

“But I don’t want to put any pressure on myself for the Australian Open. I have to be focused there, and I hope to win many matches there, but it’ll be tough. I’ll just try to do everything I did here.”

Venus Williams became one of the oldest players to win a WTA title when she beat Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the Auckland Classic.

The 34-year-old Williams took a little while to get going but managed to overcome the blustery conditions and a fired up Wozniacki to begin her Australian Open preparations by capturing her 46th career title.

The American, who lost the final on the central Auckland courts to Ana Ivanovic last year, had looked well out of sorts as she failed to adjust to the wind and hot conditions before she eventually prevailed 2-6 6-3 6-3 in 110 minutes.

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