Wuhan - Maria Sharapova's comeback from a leg injury lasted less than three sets on Monday before she retired with a left arm problem against unseeded Barbora Strycova at the Wuhan Open.
The world number three had been out with a persistent leg injury since July when she lost a Wimbledon semi-final to Serena Williams and pulled out of three events including the US Open.
But the Russian's long-awaited return proved short-lived as she was pushed to two tie-breaks by the Czech Republic's Strycova before withdrawing when 2-1 up in the third.
Sharapova's retirement leaves a question mark over the rest of her season with only one big tournament, the China Open, left before the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.
She had pulled out of a WTA event in Toronto and the Cincinnati Masters hoping to be ready for the US Open, but was also forced to withdraw from the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
"Obviously I took a large amount of time to get back to a level where I can come to a tournament, which is very important," Sharapova said Saturday as she arrived in Wuhan.
"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't healthy and ready to compete."