'Shouldn't be allowed': Ash Barty act re-ignites ugly controversy

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Ash Barty, pictured here leaving the court during a medical timeout at the French Open.
Ash Barty left the court during her medical timeout. Image: Getty

Ash Barty's injury woes at the French Open have re-ignited debate around medical timeouts, with Brad Gilbert suggesting players shouldn't be allowed to leave the court with pre-existing injuries.

Barty's quest for a second French Open crown was ruined on Thursday when she was forced to retire during her second-round clash with a debilitating hip issue.

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The World No.1 had been hampered by the injury in the opening round and said she was in tears all week knowing the issue was about to end her campaign.

Barty looked a shadow of herself on Court Philippe Chatrier, struggling to move freely, hitting weak serves and in obvious discomfort.

After losing the first set 6-1, she called a medical timeout and left the court to receive treatment - a controversial move albeit well within the rules.

Debate around medical timeouts and whether or not players should be allowed to leave the court was thrust back into the spotlight at the Australian Open in February when Barty lost to Karolina Muchova in the quarter-finals.

Muchova looked a completely different player after taking a medical timeout, with Barty unable to regain the momentum she lost after winning the first set comfortably.

On Thursday Barty was on the other side of the debate, with ESPN analyst and famed coach Gilbert saying she shouldn't be allowed to leave the court.

“I still struggle with players leaving the court for injury evaluation and time-out, especially for existing injury in the case of Barty Party for hip," Gilbert tweeted. 

"Penalises the player on court and you never know how long it will last, it’s not the player I fault it’s the rule that bothers me.

“Injury should not be allowed in middle of game, that should cost you the game, and the evaluation time has gotten out of hand used to be 3 mins just for injury time-out.”

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Ash Barty heartbroken over early French Open exit

Barty, who had won three tournaments on her global tour en route to Paris, admitted that it had been a "small miracle" that she'd managed to get through her opening round against Bernarda Pera, during which she'd also needed a medical tim-eout.

"I just tried to give myself a chance, tried to give myself a chance and see how it felt," she said in her post-match press conference.

The Queenslander visibly winced during the sixth game, trying to stretch to reach a half-volley and she couldn't get any pop on her usually excellent serve.

By the end of the opening set, Barty was already reduced to trying to keep the rallies as short as possible but the errors kept flying from her racquet, 14 in all in the opening stanza.

Ash Barty, pictured here being treated by medical staff during her match against Magda Linette.
Ash Barty is treated by medical staff during her match against Magda Linette. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

By the time Linette produced the decisive drop shot to take the first set in just 26 minutes, the usually fleet-footed Barty could hardly even run and didn't try to chase it down.

After going off for some lengthy treatment, she returned with an improved, faster serve and, briefly, looked as if she might be up for the fight.

But Linette winning the fourth game was the final straw.

"It was just becoming too much. Right from the first game, I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe, and was becoming unsafe," Barty said.

"It was a decision, just a tough one, that had to be done.

"We had a fantastic lead-up. And for my body to let me down is really disheartening, but knowing that we also did nothing wrong. It's something that can't be explained at this time."

with AAP

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