US open champion Marin Cilic has confirmed that he will not be participating in the upcoming Australian Open because of a shoulder injury.
The 26-year-old Croatian world number nine has been battling to recover from the problem over the last month but he has been forced to bow to medical advice and withdraw from the first Grand Slam event of 2015.
Cilic, who beat Kei Nishikori to win his first major title at Flushing Meadows last September, is naturally disappointed not to feature in Melbourne as he looks to build on that success in the United States.
“I have a right shoulder injury which has hampered me for some time now,” said Cilic, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals in 2010.
He added: “I am really sad that I won’t be able to participate in Melbourne, especially after winning the last Grand Slam in New York.
“But I was advised by doctors to be careful as much as possible to avoid even more serious problems.
“It is improving day by day, but I still don’t feel fit enough to be able to compete at the highest level.”
Cilic’s withdrawal, which follows on from world number 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulling out with an arm injury earlier in the week, paves the way clear for Great Britain’s James Ward to secure a place in the tournament, which starts on 19 January.
World number one Novak Djokovic is available at 2.00 to win the Australian Open, while The Field is priced at 1.82.