At the Miami Open Players React To Ash Barty’s Retirement With Both Shock And Admiration - UBITENNIS
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At the Miami Open Players React To Ash Barty’s Retirement With Both Shock And Admiration

Exiting the sport on her own terms, Barty’s legacy is one which could inspire the next generation.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Katerina Siniakova (CZE) in the third round of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Media day at the Miami Open is usually about the upcoming tournament and what lies ahead but there was another prominent topic this year – Ash Barty.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion has stunned the tennis world by announcing her retirement at the tender age of 25. Barty’s decision to step away from the sport occurrs at the time when she is the current world No.1, as well as the reigning champion at two Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the Australian Open). Explaining her decision, the Australian said in a video interview uploaded to her Instagram account that she wanted to enjoy the next phrase of her life as ‘as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete.’

Inevitably Barty’s retirement will have ramifications for the women’s Tour. Out of nowhere Indian Wells champion Iga Switek now finds herself on the verge of claiming the world No.1 ranking when her rival is officially removed next week. Raising questions about if the Pole is ready to deal with the increased spotlight of being No.1 will have on her.

“She’s even saying that she doesn’t expect people to understand that because it’s a pretty unusual situation,” Swiatek said of Barty’s retirement. “I really respect and I really think she’s brave that she has made this decision because with all the expectations around, I mean, there are not many people who would stop at this point and put their happiness in the first place.
“I think that’s an example not only for us tennis players or other athletes, but every person that they should put their own happiness. If they are satisfied or not satisfied, they should think about their goals, not really what the world thinks. But that’s really hard when you’re a professional athlete. That’s why I really respect that.”

It is only the second time since the formation of the WTA Tour that a player has announced their retirement whilst at the top of the rankings. The first was Justin Henin, who did so in 2008 before returning two years later.

Barty’s last competitive match was in the final of the Australian Open when she defeated Danielle Collins to become the first home player to win the women’s title since 1978. The American is making a return to the Tour in Miami after missing a month due to illness. Reacting to Barty’s retirement, Collins explained why she believes the situation is a true testament of how tennis ‘empowers women.’

“I think for someone to retire at 25, I think it really speaks to the way our sport empowers women,” she said. “I think it’s just incredible for her to have achieved what she’s achieved on court, to now be able to enjoy the rest of her life. All of the hard work, she certainly was all of that, deserves happy retirement, and hopefully she can have a great life off the court.
“I know she probably has many more goals she wants to fulfill. I’m sure that she’s going to be able to do that with all the success that she’s had. Yeah, I think it’s so cool being able to retire at 25. What other profession would you be able to do that in? There’s not too many. I think it’s incredible for our sport.”

Another player to speak of their admiration for Barty’s decision is Naomi Osaka, who kicked off her Miami Open campaign on Wednesday with a straight sets victory. Osaka, who is just 18 months younger than the Australian, said leaving the sport whilst at the top was an ‘ideal’ way to go.

“That’s something I feel like she was super amazing for the sport, for me in particular. I just really loved watching her. Yeah, I think what she did was ideal. I think it’s cool to, like, leave the game when you’re No. 1. You feel like you have nothing left to prove, you feel like you accomplished everything that you wanted to.” Osaka commented.

Looking ahead Barty is keeping coy about what she will be doing outside of tennis. However, some of her peers believe her legacy could help inspire the next generation of players on the Tour, including US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.

I’m just happy for everything that she’s accomplished, and the great role model she is to not only the players but also to the next generation,” Fernandez said. “I see how she works. I see how professional she is. I know what is my next step, what I need to do to hopefully achieve what she has done.”

US Open champion Emma Raducanu also took note of Barty’s decision to take breaks throughout her career. The most notable being between 2014-2016 when she briefly embarked upon a career in professional cricket. Those breaks did wonders for Barty’s mentaility and her game. Something Raducanu can relate to.

I think that definitely probably helped,” she said. “If you get oversaturated with one thing, it’s not healthy with anything you do. I feel like that just shows, if you take time off, you come back, you’re hungry, you’re ready. She basically cleaned up when she came back.
“I took 18 months off in 2020. I started in 2021. Because I had that desire to really be out there on the court, I was so hungry, I feel like I had some great results last summer as well. Yeah, it just shows you don’t need to be only tennis, tennis, tennis.”

Barty ends her career with 15 WTA singles titles and a further 12 in the doubles. She has earned more prize money in her career ($23,829,071) than any other Australian player – male or female – in history.

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Carlos Alcaraz: “It means a lot for me to be part of tennis history”

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Carlos Alcaraz enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2022. Alcaraz has become the first teenager and the youngest ever year-end number 1 player. He started the year at world number 32 and finished it as world number 1 after winning his first Grand Slam title against Casper Ruud in the final of the US Open, two Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid and two ATP 500 tournaments in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona. 

 

Carlos Alcaraz: “It means a lot to me to receive the Number 1 Trophy, to be part of tennis history, along with a lot of legends. It’s an amazing feeling. All the hard work pays off”. 

Alcaraz becomes the youngest Grand Prix men’s champion since Rafael Nadal at 2005 Roland Garros and US Open men’s champion since Pete Sampras in 1990.  He is the youngest player to beat both Nadal and Djokovic and the first to achieve this feat at the same clay-court tournament, beating them on back-to-back days en route to winning his second Masters 1000 title in Madrid 2022. 

Alcaraz becomes the first player outside the Big Four of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to finish the year at number 1 since Andy Roddick in 2003. The Spanish player won the joint most ATP Tour titles along Novak Djokovic. 

It is the first time since 1996 that two players from the same country have finished number 1 and 2. US stars Pete Sampras and Michael Chang were the last players to achieve this feat. 

Alcaraz is one the three new players in the year-end top 10 along world number 6 Felix Auger Aliassime and and Taylor Fritz. Alcaraz and Rune are the first pair of teenagers to finish in the top 15 since 1990. 

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown returns in 2023

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown plans to return in 2023. The tennis league was founded by coach Patrick Mouratoglou in 2020 when the ATP and the WTA Tours were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The UTS announced that it will hold exhibition matches in July, September, November and December in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

The league introduces a series of innovative rules, including four 8-minute quarters, no second serves, relaxed code of conduct, sudden death tie-breaks, bonus cards and mid-match interviews with players, player nicknames. The goal is to attract a larger and younger tennis fanbase. 

The first edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown was held without spectators in Southern France in June 2020 to give players the chance to play matches when the ATP and WTA tournaments were not held during the covid-19 pandemic. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Felix Auger Aliassime, Danil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem highlighted the inaugural edition. 

Patrick Mouratoglou: “I cannot give too much away, but the roster will be impressive. Our first approach with Ultimate Tennis Showdown was to validate the proof of concept. Then in 2022 we raised capital to run the events in front of a real crowd”.

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Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jack Draper are nominated in three categories for the 2022 ATP Awards

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The ATP has announced the Awards Nominees for the 2022 season for five categories: Comeback Player of the Year, the Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanships Award and Coach of the Year. 

 

Carlos Alcaraz and his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero have received a total of three nominations. Alcaraz has been nominated for the Most Improved Player of the Year alongside Maxime Cressy, Jack Draper and Holger Rune. This award will be given to the player who reached a significantly higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and who showed an improved level of performance through the year. 

Alcaraz is the youngest and first teenage player in ATP Rankings history since 1973, rising to top spot at the age of 19 after his US Open title after ending the 2021 season at world number 32. He beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 US Open final, becoming the youngest Grand Slam men’s champion since Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open, and the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990. 

Former world number 1 junior player Holger Rune broke into top 100 in January 2022 and ended the season in the top 10 after winning his first Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy. 

French-born American born Maxime Cressy broke into Top 100 in January 2022 and achieved a career-high of world number 31 in August 2022. 

Jack Draper and Holger Rune have been nominated in both the Most Improved Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year categories.

Draper started the 2022 season outside the top 200 and broke into the top 50 reaching world number 45 last October. During the 2022 season Draper reached his first ATP Tour semifinal in Eastbourne as wild card. He earned the biggest win of his career over world number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to reaching the quarter final at the Montreal Masters 1000 as qualifier and beat Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the US Open third round. 

Alcaraz has also been nominated for the Stefan Sportsmanship Award for the first year alongside Felix Auger Aliassime, Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe. The player, who conducted himself at the highest level of professionalism and integrity, who competed with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off-court activities.

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are are Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka and Wu Yibing. The player who has overcome serious injury in re-establishing himself as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

Coric beat world number 3 Rafael Nadal as world number 152 en route to his title in Cincinnati, becoming the lowest-ranked champion in Masters 1000 series history. 

Thiem fell out of top 300 last June after losing to Hugo Dellien at Roland Garros, but he returned to good form last autumn when he reached the semifinals at the 2022 European Open after beating Hubert Hurkacz. The Austrian player beat Tommy Paul in a tight three-set match with two tie-breaks after saving two match points. 

Wawrinka returned to his best form last October, when he beat world number 3 Casper Ruud and Brandon Nakashima at the Swiss Open in Basel, climbing 15 positions up to the top 150 in the ATP Ranking. 

Wu Yibing did not play from March 2019 to January 2022 due to injuries, rising from 1869 in March 2022 to career-high number 173 in August 2022 after winning titles at Orange Park, Orlando Challenger, Rome, USA Challenger and Indianapolis Challenger. 

The candidates for the the Newcomer of the Year are Holger Rune, Jack Draper, Jiri Lehecka, Ben Shelton, Chun-Hsin Tseng. The Newcomer of the Year is the Next Gen player who broke into the top 100 for the first time in 2022. 

Lehecka broke into the top 100 in February 2022 before reaching his career-high of world number 59 in August 2022 and qualified for the Intesa San Paolo Next Gen Finals. The Czech player world number 12 Denis Shapovalov for his first ATP Tour Main Draw win en route to reaching the semifinal at the ATP 500 tournament in Rotterdam as a qualifier. 

Shelton achieved his career-high of world number 165 at the age of 19 last August, becoming the third highest-ranked teenager behind Alcaraz and Rune. He beat world number 5 Casper Ruud to reach the third round in Cincinnati in his Masters 1000 debut, becoming the youngest US player to beat a top 5 opponent since Andy Roddick at Montreal in 2001. 

Chun-Hsin Tseng broke into top 100 last June and reached a career-high of world number 83 last August. He qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. 

The nominees for the Coach of the Year Award are Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz), Frederic Fontang (Felix Auger Aliassime), Goran Ivanisevic (Novak Djokovic), Michael Russell (Taylor Fritz) and Christian Ruud (Casper Ruud). 

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