Barty pulls out of Indian Wells

World No 1 Ash Barty has withdrawn from the WTA 100 event at Indian Wells next week, the BNP Paribas Open, casting doubts as to whether the Australian will play at the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara, which begins on 10 November, or return home, effectively ending her 2021 season.

Players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, ‘OK, what would work for you and what works for us? We need a revolution. Or at least an evolution of where we are today. Even when I am feeling down, I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world’s press. We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too. Roger Federer

On Monday the official social media feeds of Indian Wells confirmed the 25-year-old will not be playing in the tournament, but did not provide a reason.

The tournament, which is one of the most prestigious outside of the Grand Slams in terms of ranking points and prize money, is taking place more than 6 months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barty joins Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams on the sidelines after they also pulled out of the event.

Osaka, who announced she planned to take an indefinite break from the sport after an early exit at the US Open, now says she will return to the tour soon.

The 23-year-old withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon to protect her mental health.

“I know I’m going to play again,” Osaka told the HBO show ‘The Shop’, adding that her return will be ‘probably soon’.

“I kind of have that itch again.

“It wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost, I’d just have the joy of being back on the court.”

Osaka, who recently dropped out of the Top 5 in the world rankings, said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches.

She made an early exit from Cincinnati last month, and bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the second round in July.

“I used to love the competition and just being competitive,” she said. “If I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me.

“I just started to feel recently the longer it was the more stressed out I became, but I just needed a break to go within myself.”

Osaka was fined for failing to meet mandatory media requirements after her opening round win at Roland Garros but then withdrew from Paris a day later.

Roger Federer has since joined calls to improve the relationship between players and the media.

“Players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, ‘OK, what would work for you and what works for us?’ ” the 20-time Grand Slam winner told GQ magazine on Monday. “We need a revolution. Or at least an evolution of where we are today.

“Even when I am feeling down, I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world’s press.

“We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too.”

The 40-year-old Swiss added that the game needs to do more to help young stars deal with negativity and abuse on social media.


Naomi Osaka has had a difficult year and is currently taking time away from the tour but hopes to return soon

Meanwhile, Barty, who suffered a shock 3rd round defeat at the US Open to Shelby Rogers and has not played competitively since, was down on the entry list to compete for a third time at the re-scheduled Indian Wells event.

The Aussie, who has had a successful season winning 5 titles, including The Championships at Wimbledon, and has cemented her position as the 2021 World No 1, has been on the road since March and probably will now head for home to quarantine in Queensland.

Earlier this month, Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer told AAP that Barty might not defend her WTA Finals title in November because the tournament, which is the year-ending climax to the women’s tour, has been moved to Guadalajara in Mexico where the conditions are said to be challenging.

“We only just found out it’s in Mexico at 1500 metres [above sea level] and they’re using pressure-less balls,” Tyzzer told AAP. “Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It’s a ball that if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn’t bounce.

“In conditions they’ve never played, in a country they don’t play and at altitude, I just feel it’s ridiculous.”

He added that Barty’s participation was ‘a decision we will have to sit and mull over quite a bit’.

Barty probably will turn her attention to preparing for the Australian Open in January after two weeks of quarantine on her return.

“It certainly isn’t easy for us to get there and to play that event in Mexico and then to come back and have to do two [more] weeks [in quarantine] and then your summer is sort of ruined as well,” added Tyzzer.

So far this season Barty has achieved a win-loss record of 42-8, and won 5 titles, which is more than any other player on the WTA Tour.

Besides lifting her second major trophy at Wimbledon, she also triumphed at tournaments in Melbourne, Miami, Stuttgart and Cincinnati and currently leads the 2021 WTA Prize Money leaderboard with earnings of $3,945,182.

Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova have already secured their places at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, while Karolina Pliskova sits at No 4 on the Porsche Race leaderboard.

Less than 500 ranking points separate the remaining 4 spots, currently occupied by Maria Sakkari, Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka and Garbiñe Muguruza, respectively.

Sakkari continued her rise, reaching No 5 this week after a run to the final at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open while the champion there, Anett Kontaveit, jumped 10 spots to reach No 16 and Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova improved her chances of qualifying by making No 10.

Britain’s Emma Raducanu, who jumped to No 16 in the race after her US Open title win, rose to No 14 this week, and also has a chance of qualifying for Guadalajara.

This week’s Chicago Fall Tennis Classic represents Lap No 32 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals, a reference to qualifying tournaments leading into the WTA Finals where the Top 8 singles players and doubles teams of 2021 will secure their spot at the year-end finale.

The singles winner of the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals, that is the player who finishes in pole position leading into the WTA Finals, will not only seal a spot at the season-ending showpiece, but also be congratulated with the keys to a new Porsche.

Barty is currently 1,742 points clear of Sabalenka and it is within the realms of possibility that she just might claim the car without striking a ball in Mexico.





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