Tennis - 5-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Hawaii Open, joining men's star Kei Nishikori on the sidelines. The former World No. 1 will be replaced by three-time Hawaii high school state champion Alyssa Tobita.
The 23 year old Tobita is currently ranked No. 1073 in the world rankings. The Russian made a statement to express her disappointment about not being able to play the tournament. "I’m disappointed to announce my withdrawal from the Hawaii Open.
I find myself needing a little more time and preparation before my first tournament back. I wish I could be there to see my fans who were coming to watch me play”. Earlier in the day, Nishikori had said that he will not be able to play the tournament due to a nagging elbow injury.
Tobita, who has just started competing on the professional tennis tour, said, “I’m just thankful for the opportunity and am going to make the best of it." The event ends on Sunday. Sharapova has struggled with injuries since coming back to the tour from her doping ban.
She has said that she is hopeful of competing at the Australian Open in Australia. Prior to the event, Canadians Milos Raonic and Bianca Andreescu had also withdrawn from the tournament due to injuries. The tournament is an invitation-only event which is used by players to preprare for the Australian summer circuit.
With Sharapova's withdrawal, Germany's Angelique Kerber remains the top attraction on the women's side in the event.