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Zurich (dpa) - Australian Alicia Molik, plagued this season by a debilitating inner ear infection, said Friday she will give up tennis for the foreseeable future.
The 24-year-old, who attained home heroine status with an Australian Open quarter-final showing in January, said at the Zurich Open that she will take as long as necessary in order to heal the problem that has bedevilled her since the spring.
"I need a long period of time away, first of all to become healthy again, to get over my illness, and second of all to remain happy and to do things to occupy myself," said the defending champion who was unable to complete a first-round match earlier this week.
"I've been fighting this for a long time now. I've done the best I possibly could have. It's time to do something for myself for a change," Molik said.
"I want to take a lot of stress out of my life."
The former world number 8, who now ranks 13th, has been tearfully wrestling with her future all week.
She is battling vestibular neuronitis inner ear virus, a condition that affects her balance, coordination and energy levels.
The Australian has won just one match out of seven after taking the better part of five months off. Her only match victory since attempting a return the week before the U.S. Open came in Bali last September.
Molik gave no time for a possible return to the game.
"This could improve, it could stagnate or it could remain with me for a lengthy period of time," she said.
"I need to accept that, if that's the case," she said.
Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH