By Barry Janoff
August 21, 2013: Maria Sharapova, ranked No. 3 in the world, was slated to be among the top women's seeds in the upcoming U.S. Open. But that all changed with one sentence posted to her official Web site.
"Maria is unable to compete at the U.S. Open in New York this year due to right shoulder bursitis."
"Maria has informed us that she will be unable to compete at the U.S. Open this year due to a right shoulder bursitis and has withdrawn from the tournament," David Brewer, U.S. Open tournament director confirmed n a statement."We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to her return to New York next year.”
The news marks the second major loss on the women's side. Earlier this month, Marion Bartoli, who is ranked No. 7 in the world and won the Wimbledon Grand Slam title in June, said she was retiring from active play.
Sharapova's departure means that Agnieszka Radwanska moves up from No. 4 to the No. 3 seed entering the 2013 U.S. Open behind No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka. In addition, each lower-seeded player down to No. 33 moves up.
Sharapova is usually one of the most visible players each year in the New York-based Grand Slam event. She generally has numerous activations prior to and during the tournament with her roster of marketing partners. They include Nike, Cole Haan, Evian, Samsung, Tag Heuer, Porsche and Head.
Sharapova earns about $27.9 million annually from endorsement deals, according to industry analysts
Prior to last year's U.S. Open, she launched Sugarpova, a line of premium candies. She celebrated the one-year anniversary by attending the launch of the Sugarpova Accessory Collection at Henri Bendel in New York on Tuesday (Aug. 20). The collection includes T-shirts, bags, hats, jewelry and hair accessories.
Sharapova, whose four career Grand Slam wins include the 2006 U.S. Open, underwent surgery on the same right shoulder in 2008, which kept her off the circuit for about nine months. She won the French Open Grand Slam in 2012. In 2013, her two wins are at the BNP Paribas Open in California in March and the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Germany in April.
Following her second-round loss in Wimbledon, Sharapova split with long-time coach Thomas Hogstedt and soon there after brought in tennis icon Jimmy Connors. That union last about a month, when she and Connors split after Sharapova lost in the second round of the Western & Southern Open In Cincinnati, which is part of the six-week Emirates Air Line U.S. Open Series leading up to the Open itself.
During an ESPN U.S. Open conference call conducted on Wednesday prior to the news of Sharapova's withdrawal, John McEnroe was asked by NYSportsJournalism about Sharapova, her status in 2013 and her recent alliance with Connors.
"First of all, she was playing some of the best tennis of her career, in my book, leading into the French [Open]," said McEnroe, who will be at the Open as an analyst. "I thought she played well and got to the finals (where she lost to Serena Williams). She was very strong . . . [Then, in the] early stages of Wimbledon . . . where the courts can be slick and dicey, she was one of the victims of that."
McEnroe and Connors played each other 34 times in tournaments between 1977-1991, but McEnroe today could not get a handle on the short-lived union between Sharapova and Connors.
"I'm not sure what she and Jimmy were even working on or what he thought she needed to improve and why she felt she needed Jimmy," he said. "So that's a bit of a mystery that may be answered by her at some stage — or Jimmy. Bottom line, after one match, that seems rather quick to decide right before the Open that's it when they had just started working out.
"I'm not sure what she and Jimmy were even working on or what he thought she needed to improve and why she felt she needed Jimmy. That's a bit of a mystery."
"Having said that, I don't think there is a whole lot that she needs to do differently," McEnroe said, unaware that Sharapova would soon withdraw from the last Grand Slam of the year due to injury. "I mean, she's playing as well as I think she's capable of playing, other than the difficulties she's had with her serve. It's been a liability at sometimes and it's gone off. That really hasn't affected her — amazingly — in as big a way as I would have thought. That shows you how strong she is mentally. Clearly, if her serve was better and could hold easier that would be a big help.
"That," McEnroe emphasized, "would be the spot I would focus on if I were her."
There was no word given as to how long Sharapova thought she would be out of action.
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