High-ranked Barty retires from French Open with hip harm


Paris, June 3

Top-ranked Ash Barty retired from her second-round match at the French Open on Thursday because of a left hip injury that had flared up during training just before the clay-court Grand Slam.

The 2019 champion trailed 6-1, 2-2 when she signalled that she couldn’t continue against Polish rival Magda Linette on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Barty said.

“We have had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to kind of get a little bit unlucky with timing, more than anything, to have something kind of acute happen over the weekend and just kind of run out of time against the clock is disappointing.”  In the buildup to this French Open, Barty played 13 matches on clay, winning 11. She posted a record of 27-5 and won three singles titles before Roland Garros. But she was forced to retire in the quarterfinals in Rome in May because of an injury to her right arm. She said that injury had healed and did not hamper her in Paris.

The Australian started the match with her left thigh bandaged and it was immediately clear she could not move properly. Too slow to chase her opponent’s shots, she suffered in long rallies and struggled with her first serve.

Barty called for a medical timeout at the end of the opening set, then briefly left the court for treatment. She stopped after Linette hit an ace. Barty then walked to the net to shake the 45th-ranked player’s hand.

Already dealing with her hip problem in the first round, Barty had struggled through a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win against 70th-ranked Bernarda Pera.

“We did everything, absolutely everything we could, to give myself a chance,” Barty said.

“It was a small miracle that we were able to get on court for that first round. Again, today it was no better and getting worse again.” Barty decided not to defend her title last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, choosing instead to remain home in Australia.

After ending a four-match losing streak on clay in the previous round, last year’s runner-up Sofia Kenin advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Hailey Baptiste in a battle of Americans.

Kenin has had a tough start to the season. The 2020 Australian Open champion underwent an emergency appendectomy in Melbourne in February and her record was 7-8 entering the clay-court Grand Slam.

Fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina also progressed by defeating French Open debutant Ann Li of the United States 6-0, 6-4.

Svitolina played brilliantly in the opening set by combining deep shots from the baseline with clever play at the net and dropping only five points on her service games. She recovered from a blip early in the second set to win the last five games.

In the men’s draw, Rafael Nadal later faces Richard Gasquet on his 35th birthday. The 13-time champion is 16-0 against the Frenchman. Roger Federer is scheduled to take on 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, and top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces Pablo Cuevas. AP



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