Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova withdrew from the season ending WTA Championships on Wednesday after losing 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 to China’s Li Na. The WTA confirmed Sharapova – who has been enfeebled of late with an ankle injury – had decided to quit the tournament after two successive defeats, robbing the organisers of their biggest drawcard and the player of the chance of regaining the title after a seven year gap and also finishing world number one. For French Open champion Li it was a great relief as she recorded her first win in two months.
Li has been suffering from knee problems which has restricted her to a mere seven victories since her history-making triumph in Paris in June when she became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title. Sharapova did try and take some positives from her appearing here. “I just have to be pleased that I recovered quickly enough to allow myself a chance of playing here,” she said. She both moved better and hit the ball better than during Tuesday’s loss to Samantha Stosur, the US Open champion, and sometimes hit the ball with enough pace and consistency to suggest she might beat Li. However she missed good chances of getting into a dominant position when she failed to convert two points for a double break and a 5-2 lead in the first set, and then let slip a lead of 4-0 in the tie-break.
Sharapova did though play some full-blooded rallies with Li, who took some bold risks to grab the initiative, which caused both players to display some great fighting qualities in the second set. Li admitted that her confidence had taken a bit of a dive since her moment of glory in Paris. “Of course it’s a little bit different from the French Open, but you know this is sport. This is tennis. You have to win, you have to lose,” she said.
First Golf, now Tennis. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a winning streak for the Asian Women.