Russian ace Maria Sharapova has retired from the Wuhan Open following severe pain in her arm.
The former world No 1 had been struggling with a leg injury, but it was a problem with her left wrist that saw her pull out early in the third set of her clash with Barbora Strycova in China.
She had not played since losing to Serena Williams in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in July.
Sharapova won the first set in a tie-break but her Czech opponent forced a deciding set by levelling the match in similar fashion, taking a tie-break 7-4.
It soon became clear Sharapova was struggling with her wrist, making life especially difficult for her on her double-handed backhand, and she shook hands with Strycova despite being 2-1 in front in the decider.
Sharapova said: “It [the injury] happened around the beginning of the second set. Yeah, I got pain in my left forearm. It just got worse and worse as I continued. I think quite evident on the backhand side. Just lost a lot of power.
“And, yeah, I just don’t think it’s smart to continue trying to run around the court and trying to hit forehands from the backhand side and compensate other things. You know, I haven’t played a match in many months. Obviously, I guess this is the consequence of that. I just have to work on getting it better.”
Despite her return being cut short the world No 3 was happy to be back playing again, adding: “I was really happy to be back on the court. I’ve gone through the injury and not playing and missing a grand slam, going through the rehab, going through training, this is really the moment that you work for.
“I enjoyed that feeling again. That’s why it’s unfortunate to have to stop from that because you always build and you get the rust out and you hope you grow as the tournament goes along, but not in my case this tournament.”