Having not competed since her first-round exit at the 2019 US Open, Maria Sharapova was expected to be back in action at the Hawaii Open, with her first match scheduled for December 27th. On the day the Russian was supposed to make her appearance at the three-day exhibition event ahead of the new season, she announced her withdrawal from the tournament held at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu and will be replaced by three-time Hawaii high school state champion Alyssa Tobita, ranked No.1073.
As Tennis World USA reports, the 32-year-old Sharapova voiced her disappointment in a statement:
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.
Sharapova played just eight tournaments in the 2019 season and her form ahead of the Australian summer is still in doubt, although she continues to emphasize that the drive is still there. Yesterday I showed you a Nike dress that is possibly intended for Sharapova’s appearance at the Australian Open, as well as her recent quote about expectations for the upcoming season.