On the day she was denied a place in the French Open, Maria Sharapova's hopes of featuring at Wimbledon were dented as she was forced to retire in her second-round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Internazionali d'Italia.
Sharapova took to the court less than an hour after it had been confirmed she will not receive a wildcard for Roland Garros, following her return from a 15-month doping ban.A run to the semi-finals this week would have seen the Russian earn a direct place in the Wimbledon main draw through her world ranking.
However, Sharapova was forced to call a halt to proceedings due to an apparent thigh problem when leading 2-1 in the deciding set against Lucic-Baroni. As a result, she will now need to come through Wimbledon qualifying or be handed a wildcard to make the tournament proper.
"I apologise for having to withdraw from my match today with a left thigh injury," said the 30-year-old."I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure it is not serious. I want to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play in this special event again."
Sharapova came from a set down to beat Lucic-Baroni in Madrid nine days ago and initially looked set to repeat the trick in Rome – where she has tasted success on three occasions in the last six years.After an abysmal start that saw her broken to love in the first game, Sharapova saw the first set slip from her grasp as her aggressive opponent racked up 15 winners.
Lucic-Baroni's level dipped thereafter, though, and consecutive double faults from the veteran gave Sharapova an advantage that she retained throughout set two.More errant serving from Lucic-Baroni helped Sharapova claim a break at the start of the decider, but the former world number one was then forced to take a medical timeout at deuce in the next game and duly emerged with her left thigh heavily strapped and movement clearly compromised.
Although she was able to hold for a 2-0 lead and somehow threatened to earn another break, it was no surprise to see Sharapova retire at the next change of ends.Lucic-Baroni, the world number 22, will now face top seed Angelique Kerber or Anett Kontaveit in round three.