Sharapova may not compete in Rogers Cup

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Maria Sharapova's presence in Toronto next week has been thrown into question.

The 18-year-old Russian tennis sensation still wants to play here but yesterday she withdrew from a pro tournament in Carson, Calif., prior to her quarter-final match, because of a strained right pectoral muscle.

That's scary news for Tennis Canada, since Sharapova was to be one of the marquee players entered in the Rogers Cup. As anticipated, the tourney yesterday officially lost Venus Williams due to a case of the flu.

GIVING HER TIME

Tennis Canada tournament director Stacey Allaster said her organization will do whatever it can to give Sharapova as much healing time as possible.

"We've spoken to Maria's agent, as well as to some tournament people in California who have spoken directly with Maria, and there's no doubt she still wants to try to play in Toronto," Allaster said.

"She wouldn't be scheduled to play in our tournament until Wednesday anyway, and we would delay her first match until Wednesday night, just to give her as much time as possible to get healthy."

WTA Tour officials indicated Sharapova hurt herself last Monday during practice, although she originally strained her right chest muscle last October.

"Since then it has been an on-and-off problem for me," Sharapova said in a statement yesterday.

Local tennis fans only can pray for a little less "on" and a little more "off" in the coming few days.

Had Sharapova played and beaten Daniela Hantuchova last night, Sharapova would have taken over the No. 1 ranking in her sport.

Dropouts and withdrawals -- due to injuries, real and imagined -- have been the curse of the women's tour. Tennis Canada had been optimistic about avoiding the problem this year.

Prior to yesterday, organizers were anticipating a total crowd of between 155,000 and 160,000 for the Rogers Cup. Those numbers could be impacted if the star power of the field is dulled.

Qualification matches for the Rogers Cup will begin today at the Rexall Centre at York University. The draw also will take place today, and matches in the main draw are scheduled to begin on Monday.


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