| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

After losing her second straight match, Maria Sharapova of Russia has pulled out of the WTA Championships with a sore ankle Wednesday. Sharapova entered the tournament after sitting out since withdrawing in the quarterfinals in Tokyo last month due to an ankle injury. After losing 7-6(4), 6-4 to Li Na of China in her second round-robin match Wednesday, Sharapova said, “the ankle didn’t recover as well as I had hoped after the first round.” Sharapova lost to 2011 U.S. Open Champion Samantha Stosur in her opening match on Tuesday.

Sharapova led 4-2 in the first set before Li broke back to force the tiebreaker, where the Russian let a 4-0 lead slip away. Li then took a 5-2 lead in the second and served out the match on her second attempt. Sharapova said she expects to return to the court in Brisbane next year ahead of the Australian Open.

The Russian will be replaced by alternate Marion Bartoli of France, who will face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the final group round. Azarenka maintained her perfect record against Stosur with a 6-2, 6-2 win earlier Wednesday.

Wozniacki fell to 1-1 in the round-robin phase after losing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 against Zvonareva in the late match. Even with the loss, she will finish at number one in the rankings for the second year in a row, despite never having won a major. Sharapova was the only player with a chance to overtake her going into the tournament.