Ash Barty’s return to Roland Garros has ended in disappointment, but now attention has swiftly turned to recovery for the 25-year-old Queenslander.
However, the rigours of a return to full time playing after 11 months on the sidelines thanks to the coronavirus pandemic eventually took its toll, as Barty was forced to retire hurt during her second-round clash.
Barty said that it was a “small miracle” that she even took to the court for her first-round match, such was the extent of the injury, but that she could not manage the injury further.
“We did everything, absolutely everything we could to give myself a chance,” she said.
But with Wimbledon looming, what happens next for Australia’s and the world’s number one?
Will Barty still be the world’s number one?
Despite leaving the French Open early, Barty will still be number one heading into the grass court season on account of a number of her closest rivals pulling out of the French Open.
She is currently top of the rankings with 10,175 points, ahead of world number two Naomi Osaka, who has 7,461.
Osaka, who was Barty’s closest challenger for the number one crown, withdrew from the French Open after her first-round win, citing mental health issues.
Simona Halep, who is in third, did not even start the tournament after tearing her calf muscle in Rome.
Barty has held the number one ranking since September 2019, after first claiming top spot in June 2019 after winning back-to-back titles at the French Open and Birmingham Classic.
The tennis world ranking system has been thrown into disarray since the postponement of a huge number of tournaments throughout 2020.
While normally the ranking points system works on a 12-month rolling average, since the coronavirus pandemic that has been adjusted.
Points earned for tournaments played in 2020 that then did not take place in 2021 will now drop off the list after 104 weeks, as the WTA transitions back to the traditional ranking structure.
What is the injury?
Aside from the problem being in Barty’s hip, it’s not 100 per cent clear what the issue exactly is.
Barty said after the match that the “completely new injury” was something she had “never experienced before”.
“Even chatting with my physio, not something she has seen regularly either,” Barty said.
The 25-year-old said she had “been consulting with people all over the world to try and give us some insight into what the best ways to manage it are, to handle it.”
However, Barty also said that although the timing of the injury was “disappointing”, it was not “panic stations” yet.
“I’m confident we do have a plan,” Barty said.
“We know what’s going on. We just need time to manage it, to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”
What comes next?
Depending on the hip injury, next up for Barty is the relatively short grass court season, culminating at Wimbledon from June 28 to, hopefully, the final on July 10.
Two of Barty’s 11 WTA singles titles have come on grass, — Nottingham in 2018 and Birmingham in 2019.
However, at Wimbledon — aside from becoming girl’s champion in 2011 — her record is less impressive, with her best result being a fourth-round appearance in 2019, where she was top seed.
That was actually the last time Barty played a competitive game on grass, 75 matches ago.
Prior to the French Open, Barty said she was “not entering the grass court tournaments to lose them,” when asked about transferring her clay court form to the grass.
Unfortunately for Barty, time again may be against her, with just three full weeks to recover.