Australian Open contenders Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep withdrew from the Brisbane International on Tuesday after suffering injuries less than two weeks before the first grand slam of the year.
Russian Sharapova, the defending champion, pulled out of the first tournament of the year with an arm injury, while Romanian top seed Halep was felled by a problem with her left leg.
“I hurt my forearm in practice a couple days ago and need to precautionary withdraw with the #AusOpen starting,” Sharapova was quoted as saying by Brisbane tournament organisers.
Sharapova, the world number four, had been due to face compatriot Ekaterina Makarova in first round action later on Tuesday but will be replaced by a lucky loser.
The 28-year-old five-times grand slam singles champion will rest up before she aims for her second Australian Open title when the year’s first major gets underway in Melbourne on Jan. 18.
Halep, the world number two, was scheduled to face twice Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in second round action after receiving a bye. She was replaced in the draw by lucky loser Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium.
“We’re sad to see Simona withdraw & I’m disappointed for our fans as I know they were looking forward to seeing her at,” Brisbane tournament director Cam Pearson posted on Twitter.