Brisbane - Defending champion Maria
Sharapova and top seed Simona Halep pulled out of the Brisbane International on
Tuesday citing injuries, depriving the contest of two of its main drawcards.
Sharapova withdrew from the season-opening
event with a left forearm injury, saying it was a precautionary move ahead of
the Australian Open later this month.
"I hurt my forearm in practice a
couple of days ago," the world number four and third seed said in a
"This is such a special event for me,
especially being the defending champion.
"I'm looking forward to seeing all my
fans in Brisbane next year," she added.
The 28-year-old Russian had been due to
play fellow countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova in the first round later on Tuesday.
Makarova will now take on qualifying lucky
loser Margarita Gasparyan, another Russian.
Sharapova's decision not to risk her
Australian Open campaign comes after the latter half of her 2015 season was
wrecked by injuries, first to her right leg which forced her to miss the US
She retired from her comeback match at the
Wuhan Open in China in September with a left forearm injury, only returning for
the WTA Tour finals in Singapore at the end of October.
Sharapova was joined on the sidelines at
Brisbane by Romanian world number two Halep later Tuesday, who blamed a left
leg injury for her decision to pull out.
Halep said she first injured her Achilles
in August and had been experiencing some pain over the past two weeks.
"I thought that I was ready to play --
I came here like I wanted to play, to start the year here, but I cannot have a
full match, and I thought that it's more important to be ready and to take a
break," she told reporters.
Halep said she expected to be fit for the
Australian Open and said she also intended to play in Sydney next week.
"It's nothing dangerous," she
said of the injury.
"I did an MRI and it's nothing
dangerous, but it's still an inflammation. I have just to take a few days'
Halep was due to play former world number
one Victoria Azarenka, from Belarus, in the second round.
Azarenka will now also play a lucky loser
from qualifying, Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure.