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Maria Sharapova withdraws from Italian Open with illness

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Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova says she was sick last week and fell ill again on Thursday night. (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

ROME — Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Italian Open on Friday because of a viral illness, giving Sara Errani a walkover into the semifinals.

The two-time defending champion says she was sick at the Madrid Open last week and began to run a temperature Thursday night after beating Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1 in the third round. This is the first time Sharapova has withdrawn between matches at a tournament since the 2008 Rogers Cup in Montreal.

“I’m not the one to withdraw from tournaments,” Sharapova said on a conference call with reporters from her hotel. “I don’t have a lot of tournaments on my schedule and the ones that I’m playing mean a lot to me and I want to do the best I can in each one of them. With the French Open coming up, it’s quite important to make the smart decisions and I feel this is just one of them.”

Sharapova’s doctor has advised her to rest ahead of her title defense at the French Open, which begins May 26.

“I just don’t think it’s smart to go out on court and compete, to play another three rounds to win the tournament,” Sharapova said. “Recovery is extremely important right now.”

After winning the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, and reaching the finals in Madrid, Sharapova will go into the French Open with the same number of matches on clay (12) as last year.

“You’re fortunate to be playing a lot of matches and competing from week to week, but sometimes your body might not be ready for it,” she said. “I’m quite fortunate that I have a lot of matches on clay already, and that’s not something that I’ll be lacking going into the French.”

Precautionary withdrawals tend to plague the Italian Open, the last major warm-up before Roland Garros. Last year, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams pulled out mid-tournament. This year, there have already been five retirements and five withdrawals between the ATP and WTA.

“Especially before Roland Garros, which is probably the most difficult Slam to win, you may feel you want to give yourself the best chances no matter what,” said Williams, who withdrew from the 2012 Italian Open with a back injury before her semifinal match. “If that means pulling out or if it means being extra cautious, sometimes that’s what you have to do.”

  • Published On May 17, 2013
  • 6 comments
    BethannbillyWintour
    BethannbillyWintour like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Princess Candy is used to cake draws leading up to finals.  No way was she going to get through Errani, Azarenka AND The Serena.  Her only "illness" is demoralization avoidance syndrome.

    juless
    juless

     @BethannbillyWintour gave her a break!! this is her first withdraw since 2008!  maybe you read this wrong, we are talking about maria not vika

    BethannbillyWintour
    BethannbillyWintour

     @juless I will give her a break the next time someone gives The Serena a break which as you know will never happen.  Let's keep the playing field even, shall we?

    juless
    juless

     @BethannbillyWintour It´s a shame that we end up doing the same thing that we critiseis!! don´t get me wrong here. I love Serena but diminish other player don´t make her look better. She is the BEST no matter what press or haters said

     

    rick.cale1
    rick.cale1

     @BethannbillyWintour

     I like Maria but I agree 100% she did not want to face The Serena so just "retire".  On another note but perhaps just me but the growing # of players retiring when they realize they have no chance of winning.  I know the sponsors and especially the fans cannot like this