Ash Barty asserted on Saturday that she ‘thoroughly deserved’ the No 1 spot after winning the Miami Open to retain her top position.
The 24-year-old Australian was leading 6-3, 3-0 when Bianca Andreescu took a medical timeout to have her foot and ankle taped.
It didn’t seem to help the 2019 US Open champion much as she retired from the match a game later at 4-0 down in the second set. The Canadian has been struggling with injuries since winning her first major and it was another tearful exit for her.
Proud of our week in Miami 🏆 #10
But it’s never a nice way to finish a match… Wishing Bianca a speedy recovery! The first of many matches for us I’m sure! pic.twitter.com/IE3zGGgNF6
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) April 3, 2021
Barty, meanwhile, hit back at her critics who had been suggesting that she had unfairly held on to the No 1 ranking despite not playing for more than a year.
“I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking,” Barty said after winning the title.
“But I didn’t play at all last year and I didn’t improve any of my points whatsoever. There were girls who had the chance to improve theirs, so I felt like I thoroughly deserve my spot at the top of the rankings.
“I think everyone needs to understand that it’s a pandemic. It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of us to go through, so it’s a bit of a difficult situation. But yeah, no, it doesn’t ever really get to me. I mean, it’s just what people say and I can’t change their opinion, so it doesn’t stress me out at all.”
Hard-court queen Osaka was a contender to take over from Barty as World No 1 but the Australian Open champion went down in the quarterfinal to Maria Sakkari.
Barty clinched the Miami Open in 2019 before capturing the French Open and WTA Finals. She started off 2020 by triumphing at the Adelaide International before the pandemic caused the Tour to shut down for five months.
“I can’t control what anyone else thinks or what anyone else says,” said Barty, who was playing in her first tournament abroad since February 2020.
“Everyone needs to understand that it’s a pandemic. It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of us to go through, so it’s a bit of a difficult situation.”