With Maria Sharapova suffering from an uncharacteristic shaky serve and slovenliness, it was clear the world No. 1 was not having the best of times at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
Ivanovic in the Toray Pan Pacific Open. Sharapova retired with a hamstring injury to her left leg in the
second set while trailing 1-6, 1-0.
Things came to a head in her semifinal against Serbian Ana Ivanovic on Saturday when the Russian 19-year-old retired with a hamstring injury while trailing 1-6, 1-0.
The sixth-seeded Ivanovic, 19, will play Martina Hingis in the $1.3 million final on Sunday after the Swiss star beat Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
Sharapova did not look at her best against Francesco Schiavone and Ai Sugiyama leading to the last-four showdown with Ivanovic — hitting 31 double faults in the two matches — and the disappointed top seed went some way to explaining her form when she said she’d been carrying the niggling injury since the Australian Open.
“It’s always difficult to end the tournament this way,” said Sharapova. “I was hoping the pain would settle or get better, but against a top player it is hard to get away with not serving or returning well.”
“My left hamstring has been having tightness since the Australian Open but after a Grand Slam you are tight all over. But this was a sudden sharper pain after I landed after the serve,” said Sharapova, who lost to Serena Williams in the Melbourne final last weekend.
World No. 16 Ivanovic raced into a one-set lead as Sharapova continued to labor on her serve, as she had done throughout the tournament, hitting four double faults in the first set. But the problems with her serve were revealed to be deeper than any timing, power or accuracy issues when she called for her trainer at the end of the first set.
It took a while for the trainer to be allowed on court as an angry Sharapova and coach Michael Joyce — sitting next to his charge as on-court coaching is allowed in Tokyo this week — argued with the umpire over whether the star was allowed treatment.
Joyce accused the umpire of not knowing the rules before the umpire relented and allowed Sharapova to be treated for her hamstring injury. The injury, however, was too severe to be cured with a simple rub down and a hobbling Sharapova managed only one game in the second set before informing the officials she couldn’t continue. Afterward, Sharapova said the injury would take around a week to heal.
Hingis, meanwhile, gained revenge for her thrashing at the hands of Dementieva in the 2006 final and was delighted to be in with a chance of notching a record fifth Tokyo title.
“It was a great start for me today and I didn’t really miss a shot,” said Hingis, who raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set.
“I had a bad experience against her in last year’s final and I was happy to get more than two games,” added Hingis, who lost 6-2, 6-0 in last year’s final.
Hingis, ranked No. 6 in the world, won the tournament in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002 and holds the record for the most Tokyo titles with Lindsay Davenport.