Injury concerns ahead of Australian Open

The women's draw at the Australian Open could be severely depleted after Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Simona Halep all withdrew from warm-up tournaments.

World number one Williams is struggling with a knee injury, while Halep is nursing a leg injury, and Sharapova an elbow complaint.

However, while it may appear to be doom and gloom ahead of the start of the year's first grand slam at Melbourne Park on January 18, the trio have looked to reassure fans and organisers that their withdrawals are only precautionary.

"I just have some inflammation that's been going away very slowly," Williams explained after bringing her Hopman Cup clash with Australian Jarmila Wolfe to a premature end on Tuesday.

"It's still there, it's going away, but just needs a little more time. (It needs) a little rest, a little treatment.

"It's not even a bump, just a minor thing in the road and I'm gonna fly over it."

It's an Achilles tendon issue that has laid low world number two Simona Halep, with the Romanian struggling with an injury that first gave her trouble in August and has now resurfaced.

"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 explained.

Halep remains hopeful of turning out in Sydney next week.

Sharapova, who has adopted a cautious approach after an injury-plagued 2015, expressed her frustration at seeing a forearm injury rule her out of the Brisbane international, where she is the defending champion.

"I hurt my forearm in practice a couple of days ago," said the Russian. "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."

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