Maria Sharapova’s comeback from a leg injury lasted less than three sets on Monday before she retired with a left forearm problem against unseeded Barbora Strycova at the Wuhan Open.
The world No3 had been out with a persistent leg injury since July, when she lost a Wimbledon semi-final to Serena Williams, and pulled out of three events including the US Open.
But the Russian’s long-awaited return proved short-lived as she was pushed to two tiebreaks by Strycova before withdrawing when 2-1 up in the third.
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“I got pain in my left forearm. It just got worse and worse as I continued,” Sharapova said after the match. “I don’t remember the last time I withdrew in the middle of a match. It’s not a nice feeling.”
Sharapova’s retirement leaves a question mark over the rest of her season with only one big tournament, the China Open, left before the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.
She had pulled out of Toronto and Cincinnati hoping to be ready for the US Open, but was also forced to withdraw from the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
“Obviously Singapore and Fed Cup is a big priority for myself. I’ll do everything in order to be healthy for that. I don’t know how long it will take for this to recover so I can’t really give myself or you a definite answer about next week,” Sharapova said.
After a tough night, a bright morning with the amazing volunteers who make the tournament shine behind the scenes. pic.twitter.com/L9vKpZ4zKp
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) September 29, 2015
The other upset of the day saw the late withdrawal of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard linked to ongoing symptoms from the concussion suffered at the US Open earlier this month.
Bouchard’s pullout left Swiss youngster Belinda Bencic – who this year earned a reputation as a giant-killer after knocking out top-ranked players including Serena Williams – to play lucky loser Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia.
A visibly tired Bencic had to fight hard for a two-set win over Tomljanovic, just a day after the 18-year-old lost a final in Tokyo to Agnieszka Radwanska. Bencic will be hoping for a strong performance at Wuhan, which could see her end the year in the top 10 cementing her rapid rise up the rankings.
Radwanska did not fare so well against Venus Williams, losing in two sets to the former world No1, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4).
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