New injury fears for Sharapova, as Venus downs Radwanska

Getty Images

What should have been a day of joy turned into more injury despair for Maria Sharapova at the Wuhan Open, while Venus Williams rolled back the years to beat Agnieszka Radwanska.

Sharapova, seeded second in China after being given a wildcard entry, had not played since losing in the semi-finals of Wimbledon to Serena Williams in July due to a leg problem.

The world number three, handed a first-round bye, made her comeback on Monday but saw a brilliant contest with Barbora Strycova come a premature end due to an arm injury.

Sharapova won the first set 7-6 (7-1) only for Strycova to level by winning the second 7-6 (7-4). 

Five-time grand slam champion Sharapova then called for the trainer after the first game of the decider, and shortly after she was forced to pull out after holding for a 2-1 lead.

Monday's other second-round match saw Karolina Pliskova come through a tense battle against Maria Lucic-Baroni 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 7-6 (7-5).

In round-one action, 35-year-old Williams got the better of 10th seed Radwanska - who won the Pan Pacific Open on Sunday - 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

Radwanska's efforts in Tokyo last week perhaps explain why Williams was able to race into a 5-0 first-set lead before seeing out the opener in just 39 minutes.

Williams - who also beat Radwanska at the Australian Open this year - broke at the first time of asking again in the second.

She failed to serve out the match at 5-4, but regained her composure to win the tie-break.

Ninth seed Ana Ivanovic cruised past Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1 6-3, while Belinda Bencic - losing finalist to Radwanska in Tokyo - was a 7-5 7-5 victor over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Madison Keys and US Open finalist Roberta Vinci, seeded 14th and 15th, needed three sets to advance. The former defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-4), while the latter came from behind to beat Danka Kovinic 5-7 6-1 6-3.

Madison Brengle, Sloane Stephens, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Irina-Camelia Begu and Kristina Mladenovic all progressed to round two with straight-set wins over Dominika Cibulkova, Alison Riske, Mariana Duque-Marino, Zarina Diyas and Patricia Maria Tig respectively.

Caroline Garcia and Camila Giorgi came from a set down to beat Sara Errani and Tsvetana Pironkova respectively, while Jelena Jankovic was also taken the distance in her 6-3 2-6 6-3 victory over Heather Watson.