This year’s French Open is the first without the presence of world number two Victoria Azarenka. And the champion will not get the chance to defend her title: the year-end tournament will take place on clay, meaning tennis stars will have to choose between the three Grand Slams, not four. The French Open, which is played on clay, is considered the toughest of the four majors, so many Grand Slam winners struggle with it.
Earlier this week, we learned that former Australian Open champion and current WTA No.3 seed Ashleigh Barty has decided to retire from tennis. In the wake of this news, the women’s tennis world is left to wonder who will take her place in the French Open. So far, we’ve seen the likes of Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, and even Agnieszka Radwanska give a go at becoming a mainstay of the women’s game. But who will be the next to take up the mantle of “The Next Barty?”
This has blown open the race for the French Open title. Australian Ashleigh Barty has announced she is retiring from tennis next season. The announcement came a week after losing to Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon. The 25-year-old said she was focussing on her coaching career. “It’s always been my dream to coach and it’s something I think about all the time,” she said. “There’s no better way I could have made my mark on the game than to develop players from the grassroots level. “That’s what I’m going to do now.”. Read more about french open bracket and let us know what you think.Expectations were high for Ashley Barty at Roland Garros. The world number one won the French Open title in 2019 and showed signs of returning to championship form on clay in the early rounds of the tournament after withdrawing from the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic. She won the singles and doubles trophies in Stuttgart and reached the final in Madrid. The 25-year-old was the favorite, if not the favorite, to win the Suzanne Lenglen Cup again, and she spoke openly about her excitement at the prospect of returning to Paris. That came to an abrupt end on Thursday in her second round match against Magda Lynette. After injuring her left hip during a practice the weekend before the game, she felt pain almost immediately. His movement was limited and his throws lacked their usual power. At the end of the second service game she committed three double faults and lost the first set 6-1. A medical timeout after the first set didn’t help either. Trailing 2-0 in the second set and in what she later described as dangerous pain, Barty pulled out of the match and ended her pursuit of a second Grand Slam title in a disappointing moment at the net. 2 Connected Even the always pragmatic Barty couldn’t hide how painful this departure is. It’s heartbreaking, Barty says. I mean, we’ve had such a great season on gravel and the fact that we had bad timing, the fact that something crucial happened this weekend and we ran out of time, is disappointing. This is only the second time in the Open Era that the highest seeded women have withdrawn or been eliminated at a major tournament, and after Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal, it is only the third time in the Open Era that the two highest seeded women have failed to advance beyond the second round at Roland Garros. Historical implications aside, the early departure presents incredible opportunities for those who remain in Barty’s half and for the tournament as a whole. Only three of the seven major champions who reached the top half of the draw will advance to the third round. What once seemed like an almost impossible task is still full of talent, but much less predictable. Iga Svatek, the defending champion, remains one of the favourites. No. Opportunity. ♀️#RolandGarros | @iga_swiatek pic.twitter.com/9zAQYGEi6i – French Open (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021 The 20-year-old was a revelation at the fall 2020 tournament. She did not lose a single set on her way to the final and almost beat her often much more experienced opponents such as Simona Halep, who also misses Paris due to injury. And before heading to Paris, Swentek won the Italian Open in her final preparation tournament. She has also shown no signs of slacking during her time at Roland Garros and has yet to lose a set. Svitek needed just over an hour to beat Rebecca Peterson on Thursday and lost only two games. Svitek said she was nervous about competing in an all-level tournament for the first time as a defending champion, but that her experience has given her strength and that she knows she won’t have to worry about who stays in the draw. I don’t think so, Swiatek said. You know, you see so many players who can win a Grand Slam without much experience. I have been in a similar situation. A lot of the young players are really winning, you know, and getting confidence from each game and really, you know, becoming more experienced in the tournament. I don’t care if many seedlings failed or were already lost. I’m just focused on the next round. In 2020, Svitek faced Sophia Kenin in the final of the French Open, and it just so happened that Kenin also won on Thursday. Despite a difficult start to the season, a shocking exit in the second round at the Australian Open where she was the defending champion, an emergency appendectomy and a divorce from her coach father, the 22-year-old tennis player has so far faced stiff competition in Paris, with 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko and newcomer Hayley Baptiste. Kenin is one of five remaining All-Americans in his portion of the roster and eight total. Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner and former Paris finalist, came within two points of a first-round loss earlier in the week. She returned with an impressive 7-5, 6-1 victory over number 9 Karolina Pliskova. This is Stevens’ first win over a top-10 player since 2018. I did my best and just tried to get back to where I was before, Stephens said in a post-match interview on Tennis Channel. I try to take more advantage of that and create those opportunities for myself. That’s all you can do, and what happens, happens. Stevens, who is unseeded and outside the top 50 after a poor start to the season, has proven that anyone left in the draw should be considered dangerous. Sloane Stephens recorded her first win over a top-10 opponent since 2018 by beating Karolina Pliskova. AP And women’s tennis, which has had its first 11 Grand Slam winners since the start of the 2016 season, could have a new challenger. It could be Karolina Mukhova, Stevens’ next opponent, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year, or Marta Kostyuk, who defeated former champion Garbine Muguruza in her first match and won again on Thursday. During her press conference, Kostyuk did not explicitly say it could be her, but she did not rule out the possibility either. I think at this point anyone can win a slam in women’s tennis, in part, Kostyuk said. Not just anyone, anyone, but lots of girls. You got that right. It’s not like I have a strong feeling in my heart that I’m going to a Grand Slam and think I can win it, but this time I feel really good. I guess anything’s possible. And at 18, Kostyuk is not even the youngest player. This is 17-year-old Coco Gauf, playing in her first major tournament as the first seed. She reached the round of 32 for the first time in Paris by defeating Qiang Wang to become the youngest American since 1998. Gauf won the singles and doubles title in Parma last month and his momentum has not waned. Hauff will take on American Jennifer Brady, who reached the final in Melbourne and the semi-finals in New York. Yes, he stays in this half of the picture. That includes Elina Svitolina (5th), Maria Saccari (17th), Ons Jaber (25th) and Jessica Pegula (28th), all of whom have reached the second week of majors this year and defeated top-10 players. Coco’s rival @CocoGauff withstood a set point in the second set to beat Wang 6-3, 7-6(1). She’ll take on Ferro or Brady in her R3 debut at #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/koZATeBr8U – French Open (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021 Jaber gets first chance to take advantage of Barty’s absence – Jaber was supposed to take on the Australian in the third round, but will now play Lynette. I really wanted to play with [Barty], but Magda is a great player, Jaber said. I will be ready, I will play my game and I will try to win. Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s match between Jaber and Lynette, no one will be able to guess who will be on this side of the draw in the final. Not to mention the fact that there is more than one player in the other half of the standings who is capable of winning the trophy. It is Arina Sabalenka, who is now seeded first in the tournament and won the title in Madrid last month. As she has never advanced beyond the fourth round at a major tournament, she hopes Paris will be the final breakthrough in her career. The same goes for Victoria Azarenka and Madison Keys, who will battle each other on Friday for a spot in the round of 16. Both know what it takes to reach a championship match – Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion and reached the final in New York in September, while Keys competed in the US Open title match in 2017. And of course, there’s Serena Williams. The 23-time world champion survived a tough test in her second round match and will take on American Danielle Collins. As she now has the best chance of matching Margaret Court’s all-time record, she will no doubt try to make the most of this opportunity. As for Barty, instead of playing for her second title at Roland Garros, she will spend the remaining two weeks preparing for Wimbledon. But she’s looking forward to what’s next. I shed a lot of tears this week, Barty said. It’s all right, it’s all right. Everything happens for a reason. At the end of the day, all of this also has a positive side. Knowing what it is makes me feel a little better, but I’ll be fine.
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