Ash Barty chose to prioritize her health over staying number one in women’s tennis by forgoing a second Grand Slam tournament during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Aussie decided that she will not defend her French Open title due to COVID-19 transfer concerns. He also hinted that he would not play again until early 2021.
After being absent from the United States Open that takes place in New York behind closed doors, Barty decided not to travel to Europe for the tournaments in Rome and Roland Garros. The clay-court Grand Slam will kick off on September 27 after its opening date was postponed to the end of May.
“The French Open last year was the most special tournament of my career, so this is not a decision I have made lightly,” said Barty, who won his first Grand Slam last year in Paris, in a statement. released on Tuesday. “I wish all the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament.”
The statement was released shortly after the Roland Garros organization confirmed that it would allow a reduced presence of spectators at the tournament, despite a rebound in coronavirus cases in the country.
Barty, 24, said the main reasons for his decision were health risks related to COVID-19 and interruptions in its preparation. He has been unable to train with his coach, Craig Tyzzer, recently due to the closure of state lines in Australia.
Several regions of Australia are in quarantine amid a second wave of the coronavirus, which raised the death toll in the country to 770. COVID-19 has claimed 190,000 lives in the United States and more than 30,000 in France, according to the Johns Hopkins University record.
Players at the US Open compete and reside in a bubble. Something similar is expected in France, with frequent tests for COVID-19.
Barty, number 2 Simona Halep and 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu gave up competing in New York. Rafael Nadal was also discharged, while Roger Federer is recovering from surgery on his right knee. Nadal and Halep must reappear in France.
The WTA modified the ranking due to the pandemic. Barty has a wide gap, but could be challenged by others, like Halep.
With the new format, the ranking will be based on the 16 best individual results of the players, taking into account the points obtained between March 2019 and December 2020, which the WTA describes as “The Best of 2019 and 2020” in circuit appointments and Grand Slam tournaments.
Barty mentioned that he would focus on a long preseason and summer tournaments in the southern hemisphere.
Australia closed its international borders in March due to the pandemic and international movements remain severely restricted. Organizers of the Australian Open remain optimistic that the first Grand Slam of the season will go according to plan next January.
“It has been a challenging year for everyone and although it disappoints me in terms of sports, the health and well-being of my family and my team will always be my priority,” said Barty. “Thank you to my fans for your continued support, and I can’t wait to play for you again.”
Barty has not played a competitive match that she lost in the Australian Open semi-finals to Sofia Kenin last January. AP (HN).