- Maria Sharapova has pulled out of January's Brisbane International tournament
- Three-time major winner Sharapova is suffering from an ankle injury
- The Russian expects to be fit for the Australian Open which she won in 2008
Three-time major winner Maria Sharapova has been forced to withdraw from January's Brisbane International event because of an ankle injury.
The 24-year-old Russian suffered the injury in September's Pan Pacific Open, and she has failed to shake off the problem.
Sharapova released a statement saying: "I was really looking forward to starting my 2012 season at the Brisbane International, which has a fantastic reputation as a great and welcoming event.
"Unfortunately my ankle is not 100% and I won't be able to make it this year."
However, Sharapova still believes she will be fit for the Australian Open, which gets underway in Melbourne on January 16.
"I do expect to be ready for the year's first grand slam and I am really looking forward to competing on court," added Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008.
Despite Sharapova's absence, the Brisbane tournament -- which begins on New Year's Day -- still has a strong entry list with Serena Williams, Samantha Stosur and Kim Clijsters all confirmed starters.