‘Bridge too far’ as philosophical Barty retires

 - Danielle Rossingh

Hip injury flares up forcing world No.1 to call time on her second-round clash against Linette

Ashleigh Barty, Roland Garros 2021, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Ashleigh Barty had come to Paris in pole position after a strong showing this season.

But an acute hip injury sustained during practice at the weekend ended all hopes the Australian had of winning a second title at Roland-Garros in the second round, where she retired against Magda Linette of Poland trailing 6-1, 2-2.

Barty had already battled through the injury in her opening round as she required three sets to hold off American Bernarda Pera.

Just an hour after her retirement, the top seed was understandably downhearted, but also remarkably philosophical when talking to reporters.

“It's disappointing to end like this,” said Barty, who had come to Roland-Garros with a tour-leading 28 match wins this season, including a clay-court title in Stuttgart.

“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.”

Magda Linette, Roland Garros 2021, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Having sat out last year’s Roland-Garros as a result of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Barty had started 2021 in style as she won three titles and reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

“It's just a bridge too far this week,” Barty said. “We had a fantastic lead-up and for my body to let me down is really disheartening, but knowing that we also, we did nothing wrong. It's something that can't be explained at this time.”

Barty had retired from a quarter-final match in Rome against American Coco Gauff with severe pain in her arm earlier this month, but was fully fit and ready for another title run by the time she arrived in Paris. Then everything changed during a practice session at the weekend.

“As far as we can tell, it was literally acute, landing on serve one day,” Barty said. “It was brutal and tough to accept.”

The hip injury was “completely new” and Barty said the type of injury was also new for her physio as her team had consulted with people across the world to try to gain some insight into how best to manage it.

“I'm confident we do have a plan,” Barty said. “It's just that we ran out of time here.”

It was clear from the start against Linette that Barty had a hard time moving to her right. Her left thigh strapped, Barty took an off-court medical timeout after she dropped the first set.

Although she was able to stay level with Linette at the start of the second set, Barty walked to the net to shake hands with her opponent after only four more games.

“It was just becoming too much,” Barty said. “Right from the first game I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe... it was becoming unsafe.”

Still, Barty hopes she would be fit again in time for Wimbledon, which begin on June 28.

“I hope so,” she said. “I really do. We do all the right things now, we continue to do the right things, give ourselves the best chance.”

Having diagnosed the injury, Barty said she was confident of a good ending.

“It's disappointing but not panic stations,” she said. “We know what's going on. We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”

Linette moves on to face Tunisian 25th seed Ons Jabeur for a place in her maiden Grand Slam fourth round.