As the 2016 campaign kicks off and the Australian Open is on the horizon, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep have withdrawn from Brisbane International, due to injury.

As the first grand slam of the year, the Australian Open kicks off in two weeks, but both defending champion Maria Sharapova and top-seeded Simona Halep have announced their withdrawal from Brisbane International just hours before their first-round match-ups in order to be fully healthy for the grand slam, which starts on January 18th.

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Sharapova (who won the tournament last year) is nursing an arm injury, leading to her premature exit with no matches played.

"I hurt my forearm in practice a couple days ago and need to withdraw with the Open starting," Sharapova commented.

Lately, Sharapova has suffered multiple injuries, which have forced her out of US Open 2015 (leg muscle injury), followed by an arm injury in her return in China in October.

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Sharapova, who is currently 4th in WTA rankings, was to face her compatriot, Ekaterina Makarova in the first round, but has since been replaced by another Russian, Margarita Gasparyan.

Halep, who is top-seeded for the Brisbane tournament, was forced out by inflammation in her left Achilles, which also hampered her 2015 campaign, though she hopes to be fit for next week's event, taking place in Sydney.

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"I did an MRI and it's nothing dangerous, but it's still an inflammation," said Halep, who was replaced with Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure. "I have  to just take a few days rest."

Sharapova's match, which is in Pat Rafter Arena, was one of the matches to be delayed due to heavy rain on the east coast of Australia, causing the organizers more headaches, as two of the tournaments potential top players pulled out from Brisbane International.

The injuries of Halep and Sharapova (who is a five-time grand slam champion), is also followed by fitness concerns for the Australian Open defending champion Serena Williams, who was forced to withdraw from her first match of the year at the Hopman Cup in Perth due to a knee complaint.

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