- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2012

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Serena Williams has a badly sprained left ankle, Roger Federer an aching back and Kim Clijsters a sore left hip.

Add in a limping-but-“I’ll be OK” Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal playing with a sore left shoulder from the end of last season and the advance tournaments for the Australian Open are beginning to look like a star-studded hospital waiting room.

Williams‘ injury seems to be the most serious of the bunch, and could affect her chances of winning the singles title for the sixth time at Melbourne Park. She rolled over on it badly in the second round at the Brisbane International and pulled out of the tournament several hours later.

In her first tournament since losing the U.S. Open final in September, Williams was serving for the match against Bojana Jovanovski when she twisted her ankle and crashed heavily to the court.

After receiving medical attention, she limped through the end of that game and the next to complete a straight-sets win. She later withdrew after medical scans “confirmed that I have a left ankle sprain (and) that I probably shouldn’t play on.”

On Saturday, Williams sounded optimistic in a brief message to her nearly 2.4 million Twitter followers.

“Team Williams on way to Melbourne.. I’m doing everything to heal up and winfromwithin,” she tweeted.

Federer and defending Australian Open champion Clijsters both withdrew from their tournaments Friday. Federer, a four-time Australian Open singles champion, withdrew ahead of his scheduled Qatar Open semifinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga because of a muscle spasm in his back, but said he expects to be fit for the first Grand Slam of the season when it begins on Jan. 16.

The 16-time Grand Slam singles champion said his back had not improved since beating Andreas Seppi in three sets Thursday.

Clijsters was forced to retire from her semifinal match against Daniel Hantuchova at the Brisbane International. Clijsters won the opening set 7-6 (4) but surrendered a break at the start of the second set and needed treatment after the third game. She came back on court for one game before walking to the net and telling Hantuchova she couldn’t continue after falling behind 3-1.

On Saturday, the WTA said a scan showed there was no tear but she had a a spasm in her tensor fascia lata muscle, which helps control movement in the hip.

Kim will be resting for a few days and getting intensive treatment, but the Australian Open should not be in danger,” the WTA said, adding that Clijsters will undergo another scan in the middle of next week.

Hantuchova has had an abbreviated run into Saturday’s final, getting a walkover in the quarterfinals when 13-time Grand Slam winner Williams withdrew.

Both Clijsters and Williams, the 2010 Australian Open champion, were playing their first tournaments in four months. Clijsters struggled with injuries last season and only played eight tournaments, including the win at the Australian Open that helped her return to the No. 1 ranking for one week.

She said her hip had started to go into spasm during the match and she withdrew to avoid a serious rupture.

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