Sharapova, Li to lead charge in Tokyo
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 Today.sports Updated: Jul 12, 2011 16:42 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 told Reuters, 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," the glamour girl of women's tennis was quoted as saying on the tournament website (www.brisbaneinternational.com.au) on Tuesday.
"It is the first tournament of the year and it's kind of here you see where your game is and how good your off-season has been and so you try and get in as many matches as you can before the Australian Open."