Romanian top seed Halep was felled by inflammation in her left
Achilles, an injury that hampered her 2015 campaign, but was hopeful
of being fit in time for next week's event in Sydney.
Russian Sharapova, the defending champion, was nursing an arm injury
which meant a premature exit and no matches at her only tournament
before the Melbourne slam which begins on Jan 18.
"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 organizers.
Sharapova has long been dogged by injuries and missed last year's
U.S. Open with a leg muscle injury and then suffered an arm injury
on her return in China in October.
The world number four had been due to face compatriot Ekaterina
Makarova in first round action later on Tuesday but was replaced by
another Russian, lucky loser Margarita Gasparyan.
That match, on Pat Rafter Arena, was one of several to be delayed on
Tuesday by rain on the east coast of Australia, causing further
headaches for tournament organizers shorn of two of their biggest
The injuries to Halep and 28-year-old Sharapova, five-times a grand
slam singles champion, follow fitness concerns over Australian Open
defending champion Serena Williams, who pulled out of her first
match of the year at the Hopman Cup in Perth on Monday because of a
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 and she downplayed concerns about the injury
being anything serious.
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"I did an MRI and it's nothing dangerous, but it's still an
inflammation," said Halep who was replaced in the draw by lucky
loser Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium.
"I have just to take a few days' rest."
U.S. Open finalist Roberta Vinci escaped any drama and became the
first woman through to the last eight on the Brisbane hard courts
after the Italian demolished Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 6-1.
In the men's draw, seeds David Goffin and Domini Thiem won on
Tuesday to make the second round, where 17-times grand slam champion
Roger Federer will begin from against German Tobias Kamke on
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore, editing by Nick
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