Ash Barty’s first French Open campaign since her 2019 victory ended in heartbreaking scenes as the Aussie was forced to retire in the second round against world No. 45 Magda Linette.
The Australian world No. 1 was far from her best with a troubling hip issue apparent from the opening service game.
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Barty could only land 39 per cent of her first serves as Linette breezed ahead to claim the first set 6-1, and the match ended when the Queenslander pulled the pin at 2-2 in the second.
Barty was clearly hampered by the hip injury that saw her heavily strapped left thigh become a feature throughout the season, and gave her problems in the first round at Roland Garros.
It was clear from the start something was amiss. Try as she might, Barty simply couldn’t continue and she pulled out of the grand slam, saying her injury had become “unsafe”.
She added it was “a miracle I got through the first round” and revealed she’s “had my fair share of tears this week”.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Barty said in her post-match press conference. “We have had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to get a little bit unlucky with timing more than anything, to have something acute happen over the weekend and run out of time against the clock is disappointing.
“For my body to let me down is really disheartening.
‘We did nothing wrong in the lead-up. There were no red flags. It was just an acute episode, which is tough.
“It won’t take away the brilliant three months that we have had, as much as it hurts right now.
“It’s disappointing to end like this. I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. It’s all good.
“Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually. Once I find out what that is, it’ll make me feel a little bit better, but it will be there, I’m sure.”
Barty was struggling throughout her second round match.Source:Getty Images
Barty revealed the injury flare-up came after “landing on serve one day, and that’s all she wrote”.
The injury is also a new one for both Barty and her physio with outside help needed to get her ready for Wimbledon, which starts on June 28.
“(It’s a) completely new injury, and something that I’ve never experienced before, even chatting with my physio, not something she has seen regularly either,” Barty said.
“So we’ve been consulting with people all over the world to try and give us some insight into what the best ways to manage it are, to handle it, and I’m confident we do have a plan. It’s just that we ran out of time here.
“It’s disappointing but not panic stations in a way where we know what’s going on. We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”
Back in February at the Australian Open Barty had her left thigh heavily strapped in a doubles match with American partner Jennifer Brady. In her first round match in Paris this week against Bernarda Pera her hip gave her plenty of grief, though the Australian managed to scrape through in a three-set win.
Barty was treated on court in that match and tried to stay positive.
“I’m not going to hide behind the fact I’m not quite 100 per cent — but I can guarantee I’ll go out there with the right attitude every day and give it a crack no matter what,” she said afterwards.
But it was too much to ask to fight through the pain barrier against Linette.
The 25-year-old’s withdrawal leaves the tournament already without the world’s top three-ranked women’s players.
Barty never looked comfortable against Linette.Source:AFP
World No. 2 Naomi Osaka stunned the sport by pulling out following a media boycott, saying she has suffered “bouts of depression” for three years.
Third-ranked Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open winner, withdrew before the event with injury.
That leaves world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka as the top remaining player in the draw.
Linette goes on to face Ons Jabeur, the Tunisian 25th seed who eased past Australian wildcard Astra Sharma 6-2 6-4.
— with AFP
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