Headliner and holder Simona Halep will miss the WTA Dubai outing after withdrawing with back pain, organisers confirmed on Thursday.
The world No.3 joins top-ranked Ash Barty, who had earlier withdrawn from the hardcourt date which begins March 7,- also through injury..
“Unfortunately I am not feeling 100 per cent in my lower back, and I have made the tough decision to withdraw,” the Romanian said in a statement.
“I have great memories from winning my 20th WTA title after some really tough matches in Dubai last year so I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to defend my title.”
The field will now be headed by world No. 5 Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.