Triple Grand Slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova will play at the ASB Classic tournament in Auckland next year.
The 23-year-old Russian was confirmed today as a contender for the tournament, which runs from January 3-8 at the Tennis Centre in downtown Auckland.
Sharapova decided to skip her regular Australian Open warm up, an exhibition in Hong Kong in favour of chasing ranking points in the first week of January.
She is a former world number one who has won 22 singles titles, including three Grand Slams - Wimbledon in 2005, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
She was restricted by injury in 2009 and at times this year, but she has won two tournaments in 2010 and been the beaten finalist three times.
One of the glamour players on the women's tennis tour, Sharapova is currently ranked 17 in the world.
It has already been confirmed defending champion Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium will be back to try to retain her title.