Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova have had to withdraw from the Brisbane International due to injury. Sharapova was the defending champion at the Premier-level event.
WTA Staff

BRISBANE, Australia - Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova have unfortunately had to withdraw from the Brisbane International due to injury. Sharapova was the defending champion at the Premier event.

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Sharapova's announcement came just hours before she was to take the court for her opening match.

"I hurt my forearm in practice a couple of days ago and need to precautionarily withdraw, with the Australian Open starting in just a matter of time," Sharapova said. "This is such a special event for me, especially being the defending champion. I look forward to seeing all my fans in Brisbane next year."

Shortly after the No.3-seeded Sharapova withdrew, the tournament's No.1 seed, Simona Halep, was also forced to pull out, due to a left leg injury. She was going to play her opening match on Wednesday.

"I had problems with my Achilles in August and September, and then I didn't feel it anymore, but now I've already had a couple of weeks again with the pain," Halep told reporters. "I thought I would be ready to play here, to start the year here in Brisbane, but I don't think that I can play a full match.

"I think it's more important to be ready and take a little bit of a break."

Halep is scheduled to play the Apia International Sydney next week - and she's hopeful she will.

"Yeah, I'm planning to go to Sydney. Actually tomorrow I'm going there," the World No.2 said. "It's nothing dangerous - I did an MRI and it's nothing dangerous. But it's still an inflammation.

"I just have to take a few days' rest."

Sharapova and Halep were replaced by lucky losers Margarita Gasparyan and Ysaline Bonaventure.

Despite Tuesday's withdrawals, the Premier event still has a dynamite field, led by 2015 Wimbledon finalist Garbiñe Muguruza. The No.2-seeded Spaniard will kick her campaign off on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in second round play, No.8 seed Roberta Vinci cruised past Dominika Cibulkova in a battle of Grand Slam finalists, 6-1, 6-1, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won a see-saw against Alizé Cornet, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, and No.6 seed Carla Suárez Navarro took on Samantha Stosur in the feature night match.

Ekaterina Makarova beat Gasparyan in the last first round match of the week, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.