Retiring at the top: No. 1 Barty says she is ‘spent’

Ash Barty, Ashleigh Barty

On Wednesday in Australia, No. 1 Ash Barty waved goodbye, once again. As she said on TV this morning she did everything over the past few years. After she won the 2022 Australian Open, she was gone. She looked fantastic on the court, but she did not want to travel anymore. She pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami, and she did say that she needed to rest. But then, she thought about it a lot. Last year after she won 2021 Wimbledon, she was almost ready not to play after that. However, she wanted to try and see how she feels. It turned out to be fine, but the start of this year, after she finally won the Aussie Open, she had nothing left.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” the 25-year-old Barty said. “Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete. When you work so hard your whole life for one goal, to be able to win Wimbledon—which was the one true dream I wanted in tennis—that really changed my perspective. I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and had spoken to my team quite a lot about it. There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled. And then came the challenge of the Australian Open. I think that for me just feels like the most perfect way, my perfect way, to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.”

In 2014, Barty was mentally out of it, saying in her video with friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua that she was “spent.? She could not win anything. So she stopped, she paused and started to play cricket. She played pretty well, but by 2016, she was back again playing tennis. It took her for a while to really feel all the right shots. Eventually, she matured and began to crack the ball, with her forehand, serve and at the net. Barty could always hit her one-handed backhand, with an amazing variety. She could beat anyone when she was in form on the hardcourts, on the grass and the clay. She was one of the best players since she came on tour.

Barty has said that she wants to focus on something else, and it looks like she may not return again. That is her decision. However, Barty was very popular and many the fans would watch her, at the events or on TV. But now, the WTA workers have to reset and hope that the fans can listen and hope they will like a different style. 

Indian Wells results

At least Iga Świątek has improved a lot, winning Indian Wells when she took down Maria Sakkari in two easy sets. She can get down so low, and she can hit it pretty deep, with her forehand, backhand and first serve. Plus, this year when she plays, she can lock it in. She can be very intense. She is ranked No. 2 and since Barty has retired, it looks like that Swiatek could be No.1. According to reports, it’s up to Barty whether she will ask to be removed from the rankings, leaving the top spot open.

At what point did Taylor Fritz rose way up high? A year ago, in fact, even in January, he was rising, but he couldn’t put it all together. Finally, at Indian Wells, he played fantastic, upsetting Rafa Nadal 6-3 7-6(5). Yes, the 21 Grand Slam champion was hurt. The Spaniard injured his ribs in the semis on Saturday when he edged the terrific teenager Carlos Alcaraz in more than three hours. He had to get up the next day and battle again. He was frustrated at times, but Fritz get chugging, and he smacked with his powerful forehand and backhand. His first serve was impressive, taking his

first ATP Masters 1000. Finally, he is darn good. Plus, the last time that an American men won in the ATP 1000 was almost four years ago when John Isner won Miami. Nadal said that Fritz finally won it all, plus a couple other Americans are impressive.

Nadal said, “It’s a great victory for him. First Masters 1000. Big day for him. Victory like today helps. He played well. He went through some great matches during this week, especially yesterday [when he beat Andrey Rublev ]. A lot of credit to him on the victory because he had much tougher opponent in front yesterday than today I think.

“But he already played great matches in Australia against Tsitsipas. It’s obvious that he is improving. With this victory, it’s a great start of the season for him. He will have chance to be very close if not in the top 10 very soon. Going to be a big battle there for these numbers because there are a lot of young and great players fighting for these spots. Yeah, Brooksby is another kind of player. I saw him play a couple of times. He does a lot of things very well, with a special style, but doing things very difficult, doing very difficult things easy. Probably he going to have a great future, too.”

Yes, that was Fritz’s biggest championship for the current No. 13. If he develops mentally, then maybe he can go very deep at the Grand Slams. But before that, he and the others are already in Miami. Winning these two 1000 tournament back to back would be almost impossible. Or is it?