How shocking was Ash Barty’s retirement announcement last week? - UBITENNIS
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How shocking was Ash Barty’s retirement announcement last week?

It’s been one week since Ash Barty’s retirement announcement and the tennis world is still adapting.



Ash Barty (@FILATennis - Twitter)

A week ago, to the day, and it is still sinking in for the tennis world, that the world’s best women’s player has given up the sport, for good it seems.

Having won her home tournament of the Australian Open in January, 25-year-old Ash Barty has not been seen on the court since.

Her absence from the first two Masters 1000 events of the year, Indian Wells and the Miami Open, with no reason given should have been an indicator that things weren’t right.

She then stunned the world last Wednesday as an interview with her friend and former player, 37-year-old Australian, Casey Dellacqua, aired online.

Opinion – James Spencer (Twitter – @jspencer28)

When I got home and heard the news, I was personally very shocked.

Of course, Barty had wanted her whole life to win the Australian Open.

Doing so in January was historic, as she became the first woman to do so in 44 years since Christine O’Neil triumphed way back in 1978.

This then gave Barty her third Grand Slam, after the 2019 French Open victory, last year’s Wimbledon win, and more recently in Melbourne.

Now surely the logical goal would have been to win the Career Grand Slam, and to clinch the fourth leg of the year, by winning the US Open.

And Barty, is outstanding on hard-courts, so surely this would have been a tangible goal.

She has however won the year ending WTA Finals in Guadalajara once back in 2019, which is a major tournament on the women’s tour, and arguably the biggest outside of the four Grand Slam’s.

The Aussie may well have won the Miami Open twice and the Cincinnati Masters in the States, but there are other Masters 1000 titles missing from her CV, such as the Madrid Open and the Italian Open.

So, it’s not a case that she has won everything in the sport, or that she has won 20 Grand Slams.

She has three, and look at Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams. They’ve all won multiple Grand Slams and are still going on in their mid to late thirties.

And when you are world number one, surely you want to stay there.

That motivation should be lasting like it has been for other champions in our sport.

Of course, she had time off the sport when she left to play cricket, but Barty coming back was meant to be a sign that she still loved the game.

But to quit at the early, young age of 25 with perhaps up to 10 years left, has left many speechless.

I was stunned last year when Britain’s Johanna Konta announced her retirement at 30, and to think she probably had three or four years left at the top.

And to think, this is even more shocking.

What will happen now?

Firstly, Poland’s Iga Świątek has become the new world number one, and deservedly so after her wonderful win at Indian Wells gave her a stonking 1000 new ranking points.

As for Barty, she probably has more than enough money to retire on and live off.

She would be a well-sought out commentator within the game.

But a competitive animal like her will surely miss the sport and being on the court.

Her drive to become the best took her to the very top. Will we see her again? Only time will tell.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing



Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai



Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro



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One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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