Barty skips Billie Jean King Cup
MELBOURNE: World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will miss the maiden edition of the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague next month, Tennis Australia said yesterday, increasing doubts about whether she will play again this season.
The Australian’s withdrawal from the women’s team tennis competition formerly known as the Fed Cup comes hot on the heels of her decision to sit out this month’s Indian Wells tournament in California.
Tennis Australia gave no reason for Barty’s absence, simply saying world No.47 Ajla Tomljanovic would lead Australia’s five-player team in the Czech Republic at the Nov 1-6 event.
The decision raises doubts about the 25-year-old Barty’s participation in the rest of the 2021 season, including her defence of the WTA Finals title she won in 2019 before last year’s version was cancelled due to the Covid19 pandemic.
Barty had a stellar start to the year, winning five titles including Wimbledon, which gave her a second Grand Slam to add to her 2019 French Open crown. But she has not played since her shock third-round loss to American Shelby Rogers at the US Open last month, when she said the year had been a “roller-coaster”.
She also suffered an early exit at the Tokyo Olympics.
Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka dropped out of the world’s top 10 on Monday for the first time since winning the 2018 US Open title as she continues to take a break from tennis.
The Japanese star, a former world No.1, has not played since exiting the US Open in the third round last month.
Osaka has fallen to 12th in the WTA rankings, her lowest mark since before her first of four Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows three years ago, when she beat Serena Williams in the final.
Last week, the 23-year-old said that her return would be “probably soon” and that she “kind of” has “that itch again”.
In the latest rankings, Barty remains No.1, followed by Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka and Czech Karolina Pliskova. Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza jumped to sixth in the rankings after winning the title in Chicago last week.
Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who lost to Muguruza in the final, climbed to a career-high ranking of 14th.