Maria's chances of making semis slim

Maria Sharapova's hopes of winning back the WTA Championship title after a seven-year interval suffered a blow when she lost her opening match to US Open champion Samantha Stosur here on Tuesday.

The Russian was playing her first match in nearly four weeks after injuring an ankle in Tokyo, and her uncertainty showed as she lost 6-1, 7-5 to the Australian whom she had beaten in all of their previous nine encounters.

Sharapova, who has qualified for the season-end tournament for the first time in four years, may now have to beat both Li Na and Victoria Azarenka if she is to reach the semi-finals.

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