Ashleigh Barty retires, Coco Gauff through to Rome semifinals

The American teenager advanced to her first career WTA 1000-level semifinal in Rome after the World No.1 retired in the second set.

File photo - Coco Gauff in action against Ashleigh Barty; Credit: Internazionali BNL Twitter

World No.1 Ashleigh Barty was leading by a set when she, unfortunately, retired from the quarterfinal match against Coco Gauff at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. As a result, the American teenager is through to her first career WTA 1000-level semifinal in Rome. In the match, which saw a nearly two-hour rain delay in the first set, Barty was leading 6-4, 2-1. However, the Australian had to retire with a right arm injury. “It became worse while we were playing,” Barty said of the pain in her arm.

“So I think that’s the challenging thing is to make the decision to stop. It’s never nice. It’s the thing that I hate the most is not being able to finish a tennis match. But the pain was becoming too severe, so it was important that I listen to my body and of course try and do the right thing, knowing that we have a Grand Slam in two weeks’ time.”

Nearly three years ago, she had retired for the last time in a match during the second set of the semifinals at the 2018 Internationaux de Strasbourg. “I hate withdrawing. I hate pulling out of a match halfway through. It’s not in my makeup, not what I like to do, but it was really important today that I listen to what my body was telling me to make sure that in a couple weeks’ time we’re good to go,” Barty said after the match.

“It’s something I have had to manage over my career. It’s an injury that began when I was quite young, when I was 15 or 16 years old. It just pops up every now and again. I think the conditions today certainly didn’t help that, but I mean, we’re confident we know how to manage it, so we just kind of move on and know that the right decision was made today, as hard as it is.”

Meanwhile, Gauff said it’s not “a way you want to win a match” after securing her passage to the semifinal. The American hopes that Barty can get well before Roland Garros. “When she called the physio, I mean, I knew she had her leg taped before the match, but I think she always has that taped… When she came up to me, I was shocked. I didn’t know what to make of it, just because I didn’t feel like there was anything going on,” Gauff added.

“It’s not a way you want to win a match. At the end when she told me she was retiring, forfeiting or retiring the match… Obviously I felt for her, but when you have the chance to play the No. 1 player in the world, it’s not a good feeling to win this way. I send the best well wishes, and hopefully she can get well before the French Open.”

Sportslumo Desk

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