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Monday, August 2, 2021

Ashleigh Barty, ‘sad’, at world number one, retires injured from French Open

By AFP

PARIS: High-ranked Ashleigh Barty has said it is ‘heartbreaking’ to be injured in the second round of her French Open second-round match against Magda Linette, Poland’s Magda Linette, on Thursday.

The Australian, who won the title during her last visit to Roland Garros in 2019, left court for medical treatment after losing the first set 6-1.

She struggled with a hip problem on Tuesday during her first-round win over Bernarda Pera and said on Thursday in the second series at Court Philippe Chatrier at 2-2.

Barty also injured from the Italian Open during her quarterfinal match against Coco Gauff last month.

“It’s heartbreaking,” admitted the 25-year-old, who said she suffered a “new” injury this past weekend.

‘We’ve had such a brilliant clay season, and to be a little unhappy with the timing more than to do something – to make something acute happen over the weekend and just lose a little time against the clock is disappointing.

“It will not take away the brilliant three months we have had, just as much as it currently hurts.”

This is Barty’s earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament since the second round in Roland Garros in 2018.

She missed most of last season, including her French Open defense, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but was strong in 2021.

Barty has won three titles this year, including on clay in Stuttgart, and lost to Aryna Sabalenka in the Madrid Open final.

“We had an extraordinary last two, two-and-a-half, three months, a bit of a setback, and what happened here and this week here in Paris will not take it away,” she said.

“It’s disappointing to end up like this. I had a lot of tears this week. It’s all good. Everything happens for a reason.

‘There will eventually be a silver lining in it. Once I realize what it is, it will make me feel a little better. ‘

Barty will now be looking to get fit in time for Wimbledon, which starts on 28 June.

“I hope so. I really do,” she said of her chance to be ready for the Grand Slam on the grass court, which was canceled last year.

“We are doing all the right things now, we continue to do the right things. Give ourselves the best chance.”

Unseeded Linette will face Tunisia’s 25th seeded Ons Jabeur in the last 32.

– Wide open women’s draw –

Barty’s withdrawal leaves the tournament without the world’s leading female players.

World number two Naomi Osaka stunned the sport by pulling out of a media boycott, saying she had been suffering from depression for three years.

The third position Simona Halep, the French Open winner in 2018, withdrew before the event with an injury.

This leaves Sabalenka in fourth place in the world as the best remaining player in the draw, despite the Belo-Russian never reaching a quarter-final in the Grand Slam.

The top three in the world will not be the only notable absentees in the third round, with former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu falling during the first hurdle.

The draw opened for reigning champion Iga Swiatek and Serena Williams chasing history.

The 39-year-old Williams, who still wants to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Slam titles of all time, is the second highest-ranked player in her half of the draw behind Sabalenka.

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