Romania's Simona Halep prepares to hit a shot during her first round match against China's Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – World number two Simona Halep is to have an operation on her nose after an illness-plagued start to the year which ended with a first-round exit from the Australian Open earlier this week.

The Romanian will skip next week’s Fed Cup match against the Czech Republic and tournaments in Dubai and Doha but hopes to be back on court to defend her title at Indian Wells in March.

“The last six weeks have been extremely difficult for me, as I’ve been dealing with infections in my stomach, nose and ear,” she said in a post on her Facebook page.

“This has been one of my most frustrating periods, as I’ve not been able to train or stay healthy even though I’ve constantly been on antibiotics to help clear the infections.

“I gave it my best shot in Australia but, with the infections still in my body, unfortunately I made things worse, as I pushed myself to compete and fight in a grand slam.

“Under doctor’s advice, I will undergo surgery to fix the on-going problem with my nose – and I’ve been advised that this is my best option and success is highly likely.”

Halep was knocked out of the year’s first grand slam by Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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