- Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams confirmed for Brisbane International
- Australian competition runs between December 30 to January 6
- Sharapova fit after withdrawing from exhibition game with sore collarbone
- Williams set to compete following successful toe operation despite pulling out of game in Thailand
Tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are both set to step up their preparations for the Australian Open by competing at the season-opening Brisbane International, despite injury problems.
World No. 2 Sharapova, who has received a first-round bye, was forced to pull out of an exhibition match in Seoul after complaining of a sore collarbone.
But the French Open champion, who missed the Brisbane tournament 12 months ago with an ankle problem, is keen to return to action ahead of the first grand slam of the New Year in Melbourne.
Commenting on her withdrawal from the exhibition clash against Caroline Wozniacki, Sharapova wrote on her Facebook page: "For everyone in Korea, I'm sorry I had to withdraw from my exhibition match.
"I woke up the other day with a neck pain and, after doing a few tests, the doctor wants me to take the next few days without any playing."
World No. 3 Williams is also set to feature in the $1.5 million tournament, despite pulling out of an exhibition match against Li Na in Thailand following successful toe surgery.
Williams, who is aiming for a 16th grand slam triumph next month after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2012, is among eight of the world's top-10 women competing in Brisbane.
First-round matches start on Sunday, and tournament organizer Cameron Pearson is delighted that both Sharapova and Williams will be present along with world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
"I think Maria and Serena are the two biggest stars in women's tennis so it's great that they're both going to be here and both be fit and ready to play the first tournament of the year," he told Australian media.
Meanwhile, U.S.Open champion Andy Murray suffered defeat at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Murray was beaten 6-3 6-4 by Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, who will now face Spain's Nicolas Almagro in the semifinal.
David Ferrer booked his place in the last four and a showdown with Novak Djokovic following a 6-2, 6-4 win over Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.