"..There are still significant risks involved due to the COVID-19...I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position..." , Ashleigh Barty had said upon taking 'a miss' and not playing the Cincinnati Masters and U.S.
Open both held in New York. It wasn't predicted that the Pandemic would last this long and soon Barty had hoped to be playing a normal schedule again -- but it's still not possible. The new season of 2020 was plagued with difficult times for the world and the WTA's no.
1, Ashleigh Barty. In January, she played the warm-up tournaments and was partly successful. The Brisbane International saw the Queensland native lose in the Round of 16 to Jennifer Brady. The young American's solid background of titles won at the University of California and also in singles and doubles titles with the ITF circuit were hard to deny.
In Adelaide, Barty had defeated Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska, who barely out of her teens has seen her game escalate into being a possible threat to more WTA players. Barty won her first title and only title of the year from the young Ukraine and felt she'd have a very successful season.
This didn't happen as Barty enjoyed playing in her home country at the Australian Open, but bowed in the semifinals to Sofia Kenin in straight sets. It might have been a slight embarrassment in not getting into the finals as it was her third attempt without landing into the titled circle.
The Qatar Open, Barty went deep into the tournament but again came out as a semifinalist lucking out to Petra Kvitova in three tough sets. Had she lost her magic touch or was it just a beginning of the season jitters? It was early in the tour and she knew there was time to make up for her defeats.
But this never happened to the No. 1 player as the coronavirus struck. It knocked out and postponed most tournaments on the schedule. The rankings had to be frozen due to the abbreviated playing season and the world health crisis.
It would give players a chance at doing well when the scheduling resumed.
Barty was held at bay from competition and left playing only a waiting game
Ashleigh Barty had felt the sting of missing two grand slams but she was filled with doubt, left frightened and apprehensive to continue playing despite the worldwide pandemic.
This is why she opted on not traveling to New York. But when she bowed at missing the slams the Open's tournament director Stacey Allaster was understandable saying "I respect every player's decision...Ash made her decision on what she thinks is best for her and her team.
We wish her well, and I am looking forward to seeing her return to play...she is a fan favorite." The French Open was designated to begin a week after the Open and she chose also to not defend her title and not travel to Roland Garros.
"Last year's French Open was the most special tournament of my career...It has been a difficult decision to make but unfortunately I will not be competing in Europe this year....There are two reasons for my decision.
The first is the health risks...The second is my preparation," Barty had explained. She'd missed most tournaments and then her coach wasn't able to help her prepare because of borders being closed in Australia.
The virus was continuous with several players testing positive giving Barty no other option but to take the safe road and not travel to the events which remained. Will this hurt the Queensland native's chance of ever getting back on tour in 2021 as long as the COVID-19 still hangs around in countries throughout the world? It very well may.
Ashleigh Barty is a top contender but not used to tour life of 'living in a bubble', seeing 'few or no fans in the stands', being tested every few days and being quarantined before and after events. She'll have to get used to a completely changed environment on and off the court.
If this is possible, fans will see her on television and live streaming be victorious and entertaining. But if the No. 1 still remains skeptical about participating during these Pandemic times, it's a wonder when we will see Ms.
Barty spin and slice her magic in tournament like she's used to doing to excel and have fun? She will have to get used to the new and difficult pre-playing adjustments which will be a huge undertaking. The 2021 Australian Open vows to be fun but already directors are formulating strict COVID-19 guidelines that will take mental strength for players and personnel alike to endure.
Will Ashleigh Barty adjust to the confines being that this would be the first time she has to experience playing on a different format? It is truthfully a downer, the health crisis that at times spikes but falls leaving everyone unsure on the future of sporting and all events to happen. Unfortunately though Barty and all players will have to decide if and when it is safe enough to come out and just play.