Brisbane International organisers have been assured Maria Sharapova will start her Australian Open campaign in Queensland despite her withdrawal from a Korean exhibition match with a neck injury.
The world number two was scheduled to play Caroline Wozniacki in Seoul on Friday but pulled out after waking up with a strained neck.
The Russian has a history of withdrawing from the first WTA event of the new year in Queensland, having twice before scratched herself due to injury.
However Sharapova's manager has contacted tournament director Cameron Pearson to allay any fears of another Brisbane withdrawal.
Pearson said the four-time grand slam winner and reigning French Open champion was now flying straight to Brisbane and would arrive on Friday morning, two days earlier than previously expected.
Sharapova revealed her injury worry on her Facebook page and said she pulled out of the one-off exhibition clash as a precaution.
"For everyone in Korea, I'm sorry I had to withdraw from my exhibition match," she wrote.
"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."
The news comes a week after there were concerns about Serena Williams overcoming foot surgery to play in Brisbane.
Williams' agent has also assured organisers the 15-time major champion would line up in the strong women's field for Brisbane, which boasts eight of the world's top 10, including top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and local hope Samantha Stosur.
AAPTags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000, qld, australia First posted December 27, 2012 13:15:09