WUHAN, China - World No.3 Maria Sharapova's first match in nearly three months was cut short midway through the third set by an arm injury.
Having missed the entire summer hardcourt season with a leg injury, Sharapova looked on course for victory when she led by a set and a break against Barbora Strycova in her opening match at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.
However, an error-strewn game handed back the break and things went from bad to worse when the visibly ailing Russian dropped the subsequent tie-break.
She called for the trainer to look at the troublesome right forearm after the first game of the decider and, despite persevering for a few more games, signaled to the umpire that she would be unable to continue at the following changeover.
"I got pain in my left forearm. It just got worse and worse as I continued," Sharapova said in her post-match press conference. "I just don't think it's smart to continue trying to run around the court and trying to hit forehands from the backhand side and compensate other things.
"I haven't played a match in many months. I guess this is the consequence of that. I just have to work on getting it better."
Sharapova can add her forearm to a growing list of ailments that has disrupted her career in recent years. However, the Russian was quick to dismiss fears that it may prematurely curtail her season.
"I've had my fair share of serious injuries, and I know this is far from it, something I just have to take care of," Sharapova added. "I mean obviously Singapore and Fed Cup is a big priority for myself. I'll do everything in order to be healthy for that."