Maria Sharapova has just withdrawn from the Italian Open, citing a "mystery illness" that she had last week (when Serena spanked her in Madrid). Sharapova was cruising through the draw in Rome, having thrashed Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-1 yesterday. She would easily have made the final. But by the looks of it, so would her master Serena. And there's only one outcome in that match-up. Has there ever been such a blatant strategic withdrawal in a tournament to avoid a confidence sapping beatdown from an opponent? We all know Sharapova will be perfectly fine for the French Open, and likely cruise her way to the final, handing out breadsticks and bagels along the way to various WTA no-hopers. But she must be hoping Serena's usual bad luck at the French holds, and somebody knocks her out before she can get to the final. I know constantly getting beat by Serena is humiliating, but this is not the way to deal with it.