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Tokyo calling for Sharapova and Li

Wimbledon finalist Maria Sharapova, French Open champion Li Na and world number one Caroline Wozniacki will headline this year's Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo organisers said on Tuesday.

sports Updated: Jul 13, 2011 00:25 IST

Wimbledon finalist Maria Sharapova, French Open champion Li Na and world number one Caroline Wozniacki will headline this year's Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo organisers said on Tuesday.

Russian Sharapova, stunned by Czech Petra Kvitova in the women's Wimbledon final earlier this month, has twice won the $2.05 million Tokyo

event, which begins on September 25.

Sharapova and Danish rival Wozniacki, the defending champion, will fly to Japan early to take part in charity events in support of the victims of the deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Organisers said children would be invited from disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture, where a power plant suffered a nuclear meltdown after being crushed by the tsunami wave.

"I was deeply saddened by the terrible disaster," Chinese trailblazer Li said in the statement, the first Asian to win a grand slam adding: "I continue to think about you during these difficult times."

Looking further ahead, Sharapova, currently ranked number five in the world, will open next year's campaign with January's Brisbane International, which was upgraded by the WTA to premier status for 2012, to warm up for the Australian Open. “I have never been to Brisbane before and coming into the Australian Open I felt like Brisbane would be a good place for me to start the year,” Sharapova was quoted as saying.