27 Oct 2010

Sharapova to play Auckland Classic

11:32 pm on 27 October 2010

Former world tennis No 1 Maria Sharapova will build up to the Australian Open preparations with her first appearance at the Auckland Classic.

The world No 17 won two tournaments and made three other finals this year.

She joins champion Yanina Wickmayer, from Belgium, as a confirmed entrant for the tournament in January, which serves as a warm-up to the Australian Open.

Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2005, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.

The 23-year-old has been hampered by injury over the past two seasons but Auckland Classic tournament director Richard Palmer expects she will be a major drawcard.