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Sharapova withdraws from Qatar Open with arm injury

Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts as she watches compatriot Ekaterina Makarova play against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands during their Fed Cup World Group tennis match in Moscow, February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

(Reuters) - Former world number one Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from this month’s Qatar Open due to a persistent arm injury, the Russian said on Wednesday in a statement from tournament organizers.

The five-times grand slam champion has been troubled by her left forearm since the start of the year when she pulled out of an Australian Open warm-up tournament in Brisbane.

She was also unable to play for Russia in last week’s Fed Cup quarter-final defeat by the Netherlands.

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to play the Qatar Total Open because of my left forearm injury,” Sharapova said.

“I would like to wish the tournament and all the great fans in Doha a great week of tennis. I hope to see them next year.”

World number one Serena Williams is the top seed for the tournament which begins on Feb. 21.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris