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Mauresmo plans to defend WTA title despite injury

10/24/2006 - Tennis

MADRID, Spain -- Amelie Mauresmo plans to defend her title
at the season-ending WTA Championships next month despite being
bothered by a sore right shoulder.

Mauresmo, who can finish the year as the top-ranked player if
she wins in Madrid, withdrew from the Zurich Open last week because
of the injury.

"I'm better, but I'll start playing at the end of this
weekend," Mauresmo said Tuesday. "Next week I'll be able to
practice so I can be 100 percent for Madrid."

The Frenchwoman leads Justine Henin-Hardenne in the WTA rankings
by 268 points, and Maria Sharapova by 404. But many of her current
points, including those earned at last year's WTA Championships, are close to expiring.

"Maria's in great shape," Mauresmo said. "Justine, if she's
fit to play, will be tough to beat, so it's quite an open
tournament and any player could win it."

The top eight players in the WTA rankings qualify for the
season-ending championship. Last year, Mauresmo beat Mary Pierce in
a marathon final, a victory she called a turning point in her
career.

"Winning in Los Angeles last year was very important to me. I
found something new and finally proved to myself that I could win
the big ones," Mauresmo said. "I just suddenly had a click and
said to myself I had to do this. I'm 26 now and after a let down in
the months before it, I really pushed myself."

This year, Mauresmo won the Australian Open and Wimbledon
titles.

"The Grand Slam titles and the championships are more important
than finishing No. 1 in my mind," Mauresmo said. "Winning this
tournament is more important than finishing No. 1, but maybe if I
finish No. 1, maybe it will become an emotional thing then."

The WTA Championships run from Nov. 7-12.