Five-time major champion Maria Sharapova withdrew from the U.S. Open on Sunday due to a right leg injury that has kept her off the court since her last tournament at Wimbledon.
According to reports by the New York Times, the 2006 U.S. Open champion is suffering from a muscle strain, an injury that she first sustained while training for hard court tournaments a month ago. She later aggravated the already-damaged muscle while playing.
She did step onto the court for an early practice session on Sunday, but she was obviously not in full form with her injured leg, and pulled out of the tourney shortly after a discussion with her coach and training partner.
Sharapova, the third ranked tennis player in the world, was originally scheduled to play her first match at the U.S. Open on Monday against rising star Daria Gavrilova who is seeded 38th in the world rankings. Now, Sharapova’s spot in the tourney will be given to Daria Kasatkina of Russia.
ESPN reported that Sharapova spoke to the media in a press conference and expressed her disappointment with her inability to compete this week.
“Unfortunately I will not be able to compete in this year’s U.S. Open. I have done everything possible to be ready but it was just not enough time. To all my amazing fans, I will be back in the Asian swing in a few weeks and look forward to finishing the year healthy and strong.”
Given the way the draws were set up at the U.S. Open, there could have been a potential matchup between Sharapova and Serena Williams before the finals. Williams, the number one player in the world and reigning Wimbledon champion, is looking to complete the historic calendar year Grand Slam with a victory at the U.S. Open, the season’s final major. With Sharapova’s withdrawal, Serena will have one less formidable opponent to face as she looks to add the U.S. Open trophy to her Australian, French, and Wimbledon titles this year.
The well-documented rivalry between Serena and Maria has been largely lopsided with Serena leading 18-2 all time; their last meeting was in the semi-finals at Wimbledon and Williams won.
Sharapova’s withdrawal this week makes it the second time in three years that she has had to pull out of the U.S. Open, and she still hasn’t captured a major championship victory in nearly two years, with her last victory coming at the 2014 French Open.
[Photo by Allsports.com]