She was set to appear at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship this year but has been forced to pull out due to illness…

Tennis ace Maria Sharapova has been forced to pull out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this February after initially accepting a wild card to join a field of top contenders on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour.

A statement issued from the Tournament Director Salah Tahlak cites injury and illness as the reason behind the last minute withdrawal. Neither Sharapova nor Madison Keys will be at the tournament according to the new statement. “Maria said that she  is very sorry she cannot be here and hopes to come back next year. We wish her and Madison a speedy recovery,” added Tahlak.

Sharapova’s last appearance in Dubai was back in 2006, when the five-time Grand Slam winner beat former champion Martina Hingis and defending champion Lindsay Davenport before falling in the final to another former Dubai champion, Justin Henin.

The line up for the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships  now consists of three former world number ones: Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza; 2018 Sydney champion, two-time Grand Slam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Angelique Kerber; and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova. Also in the line-up is defending Dubai champion and recent Brisbane winner Elina Svitolina, and Australian number one and 2018 Sydney runner-up Ashleigh Barty.

Grandstand ticket prices start at Dhs55 for opening rounds, and are priced up to Dhs735 for the finals.

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