Even before the commencement of this year’s US Open, drama has begun to loom over it. Five-time major champion, Maria Sharapova declared through her Facebook page that she will not be participating in the event due to injury.
She made the announcement 24-hours before the event – scheduled to start from today. After a strong start of the year, the 28-year-old Russian faded out of the spotlight because of a prolonged leg injury.
“Unfortunately I will not be able to compete in this years US Open. I have done everything possible to be ready but it was just not enough time,” she wrote in an official statement on her Facebook page.
She confirmed whatsoever that she will be back for the Asian swing. “I will be back in the Asian swing in a few weeks and look forward to finishing the year healthy and strong,” she added.
The injury haunted her form since Wimbledon where she lost to Serena Williams in the semi-finals. It was the rematch of 2004 final when a 17-year old, Sharapova defeated Serena Williams, then 23, to clinch her first ever major title. Nevertheless, “Masha” (as she is known to her fans) couldn’t produce even nearly as good tennis as she did back in 2004, so far this year.
She has been seen to struggle in Rolland Garros as well after losing in straight sets to Lucie Safarova in the fourth round. Additionally, she didn’t contest in any tournaments since her exit from Wimbledon. Therefore, no matter how major a blow for the tournament it isn’t a shock that she decided to pull out.
Sharapova, ranked number 3 in the world and 2006 US Open champion, by withdrawing has paved way for lucky loser and fellow Russian, Daria Kasatkina, an 18-year-old teenager, ranked 133 in the world to be placed in the main draw.
Kasatkina will now replace Sharapova to play world number 37, Daria Gavrilova from Australia in the first round.
The Russian’s exit will mark the second time in three years that she withdrew from Flushing Meadows. In 2013 also, she pulled out from the tournament, owing a right shoulder injury. The injury was predominantly why she lost to American, Sloane Stephens in the first round of Cincinnati masters – one of the tournaments from US Open series.
Talking about her injury, she told media earlier this month that being a sportsperson one should always “believe in the ability to go through the little things” that might cross the path. “There’s no athlete who’s ever 100 percent healthy,” she added.
The fans will be left utterly disappointed to learn that Sharapova, who was drawn on the same quarters as that of her nemesis and world number 1, Serena Williams, was supposed to play the American in the semi-finals.
Williams, who is bidding to win her first-calendar year grand slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, will be thankful for a smoother path albeit having a 17-2 head-to-head record over the Russian.