Sharapova’s Australian Open Feature Dealt Huge Blow

Maria Sharapova was forced to retire injured in defeat to Aryna Sabalenka at the Shenzhen Open, 10 days before the Australian Open begins.

Russia’s Sharapova, 31, was using the event in China to prepare for the first Grand Slam of the season but walked off court after six games of set two.

She appeared on court with her right shoulder heavily taped but an issue with her left thigh led to retirement.

Number one seed Sabalenka’s 6-1 4-2 win takes her into the semi-finals.

The Shenzhen Open was the first singles event since August for world number 29 Sharapova, who could not overcome her injury issue in China despite taking an off-court medical time-out between sets.

The Australian Open begins in Melbourne on 14 January.