On a wet and dreary quarterfinal Friday at the Rome Masters, Ash Barty called it quits early in the second up a set against American Coco Gauff.
The match was paused due to rain at 2-all in the first. The two returned after the 2-hour stoppage to only play one more game before the rains returned.
Upon resumption, Barty gained the upper hand taking the first, but then at 2-1 in the second, following a brief trainer visit the Australian pulled the plug due to a right elbow issue.
“It became worse while we were playing,” Barty said of the injury. “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.”
The rain didn’t help Barty at all.
“The conditions are brutal, coming on and off,” she added. “Obviously it was a little bit heavier today with the rain as well the balls were getting quite heavy. Yeah, I felt like I wasn’t able to serve anywhere near 100%. It was kind of manufacturing a little bit.
“It’s a pre-existing injury, an issue we have had troubles with before. So it’s important to know that we know what the recovery looks like and not allow it to get to a stage where it becomes uncontrollable in a sense where we can’t recover from it.”
Gauff moves into the semifinals, salvaging what hasn’t been a great year for the teen who just beat Aryna Sabalenka yesterday.
“It’s not a way you want to win a match,” Gauff said. “At the end when she told me she was retiring, forfeiting or retiring the match, Obviously I felt for her, but it’s just like 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.”
The 17-year-old Gauff will now await the winner between Elina Svitolina and Iga Swiatek who will have to play two matches tomorrow.
“I played Svitolina in Australia,” Gauff said. “Honestly that match, even though the score didn’t say it, I felt like it was a high-quality match. She plays super well, so I know what I have to expect, high intensity from the first point to the last.
“Regarding Swiatek, she has great results on the clay. I mean, obviously she won French Open last year, and she had a good match this week against Krejcikova, and so I think either/or it’s going to be a tough match. They are both fighters. They both have good results in Grand Slams and in 1000s, so I think it’s just going to come down to who wants it more. I’m going to try my best.”
Earlier, former champion Karolina Pliskova returned the semifinals after saving three match points in a tight win over Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(1).
Thanks to three double faults, Ostapenko held the match points on Pliskova service game at 4-5 in the third. The Czech was able to rebound and then won the last seven points of the 2-hour, 20-minute encounter.
“Definitely horrible start for me,” Pliskova said. “Super slow. Just going from that match yesterday where I had just time for everything, today there was not much time for anything.
“But just proud I think mostly how I fight because I was not really feeling well on the court today. Somehow for some reason I was not playing of course my best tennis, but I found a way of course like you can call it luck, but, yeah, I’m just happy that I stayed in there and fight till the end.”
Pliskova will now take on former French quarterfinal Petra Martic who stopped Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-4.
“I don’t know how many wins in total I have in Rome,” Martic said. “I think this will be my most successful tournament of all. I just couldn’t perform here, for some reason. I’m really happy that, you know, especially not having a good start to the season. Rome is hopefully gonna make a change for me and things are gonna start going upwards for me from now on.”
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