It was a bummer of a day for tennis fans like myself who are fond of both Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic as they both withdrew from upcoming events. The more serious withdrawal is from Masha. Due to a lingering shoulder injury, Sharapova will not play in the year-ending 2013 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul. Masha won the 2004 Tour Championship when it was played in Los Angeles. Of course, I join all of her fans in wishing a full and speedy recovery and rehab. What is so disappointing about Maria getting bitten by the injury bug (she also had a hip issue) this year is how wonderfully she started out. She reached the semis of the Australian Open and Doha. She was a runner-up at Roland Garros, Miami and Madrid. She won 2 titles; at Indian Wells and Stuttgart, where she successfully defended her title from last year.
This was all accomplished before Wimbledon even started. But once play began at the All England Club, things looked awry. There was an inexplicable 2nd round loss on the grass to Michelle Larcher de Brito. That was after having a bit of a tussle with Kristina Mladenovic in the first round. She hired Jimmy Connors as her coach (which I personally didn’t think was a good fit), only to have that last one match. After a tough loss to Sloane Stephens in Cincinnati, something looked wrong. It’s no big deal to lose to Sloane, who is a rising star on tour with tons of talent. However, watching that match it did seem like Masha was having problems at times even finding the court with her shots. She hasn’t played since. Effectively, this ends her season. It was a season of great promise early on that didn’t end well. All we as fans can do is hope she heals well and is ready for the start of the 2014 season.
While Jelena Jankovic did receive medical treatment for her hip during the final of the 2013 China Open a few days ago, I hope her withdrawal from the 2013 Japan Women’s Open is more precautionary. That is, since she no longer needs the points to make the WTA Championships (she’s in!), there is no need to play in Osaka and risk making things worse. So far, I’ve not heard that she’s pulling out of the WTA Championships, so knock on wood that she’s just forsaking Japan in an effort to be as healthy as possible for Istanbul.