WUHAN • Tennis world No. 3 Maria Sharapova has vowed to "do everything" she can to compete at the WTA Finals in Singapore, despite suffering another injury setback at the Wuhan Open on Monday.
In her first match since July's Wimbledon, the Russian lasted less than three sets before retiring with a left forearm problem against unseeded Barbora Strycova.
The 28-year-old had been out with a persistent leg injury since July and had pulled out of three events including the US Open.
However, her long-awaited return proved short-lived as she was pushed to two tie-breaks by the Czech before withdrawing while 2-1 up in the third.
"I got pain in my left forearm. It just got worse and worse as I continued," Sharapova said.
"I don't remember the last time I withdrew in the middle of a match. It's not a nice feeling."
Her retirement leaves a question mark over the rest of her season, with only one major tournament, next week's China Open in Beijing, before the year-ending WTA Finals which will start on Oct 25.
She had pulled out of a WTA event in Toronto and the Cincinnati Masters hoping to be ready for the US Open but was also forced to withdraw from the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
"Obviously, Singapore and the Fed Cup are big priorities for myself. I'll do everything in order to be healthy for that," said the five-time Grand Slam champion.
"I don't know how long it will take for this to recover so I can't really give myself or you a definite answer about next week."
Only Sharapova, world No. 2 Simona Halep and top-ranked Serena Williams have qualified for the elite eight-woman singles line-up in Singapore. Premier events at Wuhan and Beijing offer ample points for those seeking to book their places.
German Angelique Kerber yesterday beat Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 as she seeks to consolidate her seventh-place standing in the Road to Singapore leaderboard.
Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, one rung below, was also victorious, beating Monica Niculescu of Romania 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
However, there was bad news for Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic, who retired with a thigh injury after losing the first set against unseeded Italian Camila Giorgi 2-6.
Bencic, a finalist in Tokyo last week and 12th in the race to Singapore, is seeking to make a late charge into the WTA Finals.
WTA WUHAN OPEN
Q-finals (StarHub Ch203, 6.30pm)