Maria Sharapova retired from her Italian Open match due to a left thigh injury hours after learning she would not be granted a wild card into the French Open. Sharapova was leading Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 6-3, 2-1 when she called it quits on Tuesday in the second round.
Sharapova had left the court for an injury timeout during the second game of the third set. She came back with her left thigh taped and managed to win a game despite serving softly, then walked to the net after Lucic-Baroni held serve.
The retirement came 2 1/2 hours after French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli announced he would not invite Sharapova to Roland Garros because of her past doping ban.
“I apologize for having to withdraw from my match today with a left thigh injury. I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure it is not serious,” Sharapova said in a statement. “I want to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play in this special event again.”
Sharapova returned last month following a 15-month ban for testing positive for the banned heart drug meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.
The Russian has accepted wild cards to enter all three of her tournaments since her return, attracting criticism from many players.
Sharapova was given a wild card for Rome ahead of local player Francesca Schiavone, which sparked controversy. But she won’t be heading to Paris next week.
“Must be tough for her, but it’s the way it is,” Novak Djokovic said after he overcame a challenging first set to beat British qualifier Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (2), 6-2 in his opening match at the Foro Italico. “In some tournaments she’s going to get that help in wild card and invitation; some not. Unfortunately, it’s Grand Slam, which is for sure for her a big one.”
The French Open starts in less than two weeks.
“She has to go through a tougher way back,” Djokovic added. “After being absent from the tour for a long time, she’s going to be patient, at least as much as she can, to slowly build her rankings and get back to where she has the quality to (enter tournaments directly).”
Sharapova reached the semifinals in Stuttgart, Germany, then was eliminated in the second round in Madrid last week.
By winning her opening match in Rome on Monday, Sharapova earned enough points to enter the top 200 next week and gain direct entry to the qualifying tournament for Wimbledon.
She won both of her previous matches against Lucic-Baroni, a semifinalist at this year’s Australian Open.
Earlier, Bedene frustrated Djokovic for long stretches with his foot speed, keeping the ball in play and whipping surprising winners.
At the conclusion of a tight first set, Djokovic served three aces in the tiebreaker then laughed to himself in apparent astonishment.
Also, David Goffin rallied past Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Tomas Berdych notched his 600th career win by beating qualifier Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-4; Jack Sock defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; and Alexander Zverev outlasted Kevin Anderson 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the tournament with a hip injury.
In other women’s action, last year’s finalist, Madison Keys, was beaten by Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova 2-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Keys is still struggling to regain her form after left wrist surgery in the offseason. She also had opening-round losses in her previous two tournaments in Charleston and Madrid.
The 33rd-ranked Gavrilova had to come through qualifying because she forgot to enter the main draw.
Also, fifth-seeded Johanna Konta defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-0; Ekaterina Makarova eliminated Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-1; and qualifier Catherine Bellis beat Misako Doi 6-4, 7-6 (6).