Two-time Qatar Total Open champion Victoria Azarenka has had to withdraw from the tournament due to a foot injury.
The World No. 2 first won the title in Doha in 2012, beating Sam Stosur in the final 6-1 6-2. She then successfully defended her title by defeating Serena Williams 7-6(6) 2-6 6-3, even though she had to relinquish the No. 1 spot to Williams.
In a statement, Azarenka said: "I am sorry I can't make it to Doha for the Qatar Total Open, but unfortunately I haven't been able to recover on time from my ongoing foot injury. I am thankful to all my fans in Doha and I look forward to coming back next year. I wish the best of luck to the tournament and hope that fans enjoy watching the other players that will be coming to that great event."
Tournament Director Saad Al Mohannedi said: “We are disappointed that Victoria cannot join us at this year’s event but we wish her a quick recovery and best of luck for the rest of the season. Victoria has promised us that she will be back next year and we look forward to welcoming her to Doha once more.”
Azarenka had been aiming for a third consecutive Australian Open title, but lost in the quarter-final to Agnieszka Radwanska, and has not played since.
Azarenka is likely to lose the No. 2 spot to Li Na, who will be in Doha this year and is just 11 points behind Azarenka in the rankings – it will be a new career high for the Australian Open champion.
The Qatar Total Open will take place between 10 and 16 February.