(CNN) -- World No.1 Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the Dubai Open Wednesday because she did not wish to risk an ankle injury she has been carrying since winning the Australian Open last month.
The top seed was due to face Germany's Julia Goerges in the last 16, having received a first round bye at the $2 million WTA tournament.
But the Belarus star said she did not want risk her season and long-term future by playing with an injury.
"I don't want to repeat mistakes I made before," she told AFP.
"I would sometimes play when I was not a hundred percent, when I was only fifty percent sometimes.
"It did no good for myself or the tournament. Health is the most important thing. After tennis there is hopefully a long life, and I can't jeopardize that."
Azarenka went to the top of the rankings with her stunning straight sets win over Maria Sharapova in the final of the first grand slam of the year and consolidated her position by winning the Qatar Open, despite the ankle problem.
"Last week it already hurt in the semifinal, and in the final I tried to do everything, you know, to be able to play. It took a lot of sacrifice by taking a lot painkillers, but apparently didn't get better," she told the official WTA website.
"Just taking it day by day and doing absolutely everything possible to be ready today. I tried to hit yesterday, and I mean, it's just it was really clear that it's not really possible," she added.
Azarenka is likely to return home to Minsk to rest ahead of the March hard court season in the United States.
Following the earlier withdrawal of Petra Kvitova, it left defending champion Caroline Wozniacki as the highest ranked player left in the event and she comfortably reached the quarterfinals as she beat Romanian qualifer Simona Halep 6-2 6-3.
U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia also progressed, beating Lucie Safarova 6-1 6-7 6-1.
Safarova upset Wozniacki in Doha last week, but had no answer to Stosur in the deciding set.
Fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland ended the run of Israeli Shahar Peer 7-5 6-4, the match played on a secure outside court.
Peer, who became the first female Israeli player to compete in the UAE in 2010, had to cope with tight security during her stay, but was allowed to make a sightseeing visit.