Maria Sharapova under injury cloud ahead of Aus Open after retiring in China

Maria Sharapova looking dejected

Maria Sharapova’s Australian Open preparations are off to a shaky start after she was forced to retire during the Shenzhen Open.

The former world No 1 looked sluggish early on during her quarter-final clash against Aryna Sabalenka.

During an on-court coaching break, the Russian’s coach Thomas Hogstedt told her: “If you feel more like you did on the first point, then you just stop. Or you take a medical now. But the shots are there… you have to get it up to another gear.”

After losing the opening set 6-1, she eventually took a timeout, but it wasn’t long before she found herself 4-2 down and decided to throw in the towel.

World No 13 Sabalenka will take on Wang Yafan for a place in the final after the Chinese player beat Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.

The other semi-final will see Vera Zvonareva up against Alison Riske.

Russian Zvonareva dropped the first set against Veronika Kudermetova before storming back to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 while American Riske beat Sorana Cirstea from Romania 7-5, 6-1.

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