Ash Barty is still holding out hope that she will be fit for grass-court glory at Wimbledon despite her early exit from the French Open due to injury.
Barty says she has shed some tears this past week but is now putting on a brave face after her hip injury became so debilitating that she was forced to retire during her second-round match against Poland’s Magda Linette on Thursday.
There are still just under four weeks to go before the biggest tournament in tennis begins in London, the grass-court pinnacle which Barty has long enjoyed and feels suits her all-court strengths.
In 2019, she demonstrated her prowess on the surface with a pre-Wimbledon triumph at Birmingham that first took her to the world No 1 spot for a seven-week spell before she regained the accolade later in the year, never to relinquish it since.
Asked whether she felt she would be fit to play in the London grand slam, Barty smiled: “I hope so. I really do. We do all the right things now, we continue to do the right things. Yeah, give ourselves the best chance.”
The great unknown remains the exact nature of the “acute” injury to her left hip which Barty explained she had picked up during a training session when landing heavily after a serve.
“It’s a completely new injury, and something that I’ve never experienced before. Even chatting with my physio, it’s not something she has seen regularly either,” said Barty.
She said her team had been consulting experts from around the world, hoping to gain insight into the best ways for the problem to be treated.
“I’m confident we do have a plan. It’s just that we ran out of time here,” Barty added. “It’s disappointing but not panic stations. We know what’s going on. We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”
There was no time for sympathy from Barty’s rivals, though, as they now sense a golden opportunity at a tournament where both the top two seeds have disappeared in the first week.
None of the world’s top-ranked three players – Barty, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, the Romanian former champion who withdrew before the tournament started – are in the mix.
All of which looks as if it perfectly suits the on-song champion Iga Swiatek, who swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 trouncing of Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson on Thursday.
“I don’t care that many seeds have pulled out or already lost. I’m just focusing on my next round,” Swiatek said, when asked about the absence of the big guns.
Barty’s absence, though, really opens up the top half of the draw for the young Pole, who said after her win: “When I was on the court, I just felt the ball perfectly. I felt like I could do anything with it.”
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.