Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka withdrew from her Brisbane International against Serena Williams with an infected right big toe on Friday, citing concerns about aggravating the injury so close to the Australian Open.
Azarenka made the announcement about a half hour before she was to play the third-ranked Williams, who has an 11-1 record against Azarenka and is on a roll after winning titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the U.S. Open.
It came soon after Andy Murray, the Olympic men's gold medalist and U.S. Open champion, had finished off his 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the quarterfinals.
Murray had lapses in his opening three-set win over No. 199-ranked Australian qualifier John Millman on Thursday night, while Ivan Lendl was en route to Australia, but had no serious trouble with his coach in the stands.
The first of Murray's three titles in a breakthrough 2012 season was in Brisbane, where he started working with former No. 1-ranked Lendl last Janua...