'Shambles': Ash Barty and Novak Djokovic in 'shocking' tennis farce

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Ash Barty (pictured left) speaking to a trainer in Rome and Novak Djokovic (pictured right) looking angry while waiting for the chair umpire to make a decision.
Fans have taken aim at the WTA and ATP after Ash Barty (pictured left) played on in the Rome rain at the Italian Open while Novak Djokovic (pictured right) didn't have to return to court. (Getty Images)

The tennis world has taken aim at the 'double standards' at the Italian Open after women's World No.1 Ash Barty played in the rain, while ATP World No.1 Novak Djokovic didn't return to court.

Barty made the 'surprising' call to retire, while leading American sensation Coco Gauff, in her Italian Open quarter-final showdown.

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Barty was clearly in discomfort after sporting a compression band on her right arm and retired in the second set in a tough battle.

But fans became frustrated during the match after it was interrupted numerous times due to rainfall.

It took just 20 minutes for play to be halted due to drizzle in the first set.

The pair again had to come off after just one game as more rain arrived and, following another 15-minute interval, they returned with Barty not at her best but still having enough nous to take the first set in 50 minutes.

Barty retired only three games later.

But Barty's encounter appeared in contrast to World No.1 Djokovic's clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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Djokovic was trailing against the in-form Tsitsipas, but could be seen waiting for the chair umpire to stop the match due to the rain.

The pair left the court and never emerged again as the match was suspended.

Novak Djokovic  waits to see if the umpire will stop the match due to heavy rain whilst playing Stefanos Tsitsipas during their match on Day Seven of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 14, 2021.
Novak Djokovic waits to see if the umpire will stop the match due to heavy rain whilst playing Stefanos Tsitsipas during their match on Day Seven of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 14, 2021. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

This prompted uproar within the tennis world after an 'inexplicable' difference in fortunes for the women and men's tour.

Fans were rightfully concerned over player welfare and questioned the decision to allow the women to keep playing.

Some fans even suggested Barty appeared justifiably 'irate' she had to return in the difficult conditions where she risked further injury.

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While Barty retired injured, Djokovic will resume 6-4, 2-1 down to Tsitsipas in Rome.

Barty's addresses injury scare

Barty looked like she would be surging into the semi-final of the Italian Open when she suddenly retired, despite leading Gauff.

Following her match Barty, insisting that pulling out was a precaution, said she was confident that she'd be "good to go" in a fortnight when she sets out to win at Roland Garros as she did in 2019.

"It's disappointing no doubt but it was important that I listened to my body and gave it time to rest and recover and make sure that in a couple of weeks time I'm 100% fit for Roland Garros," said Barty.

"It became worse while we were playing. The challenging thing is to make the decision to stop. It's the thing that I hate the most, not being able to finish a tennis match. It's not in my makeup, not what I like to do.

"But the pain was becoming too severe, so it was important to try and do the right thing."

Barty has been in excellent form ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year.

But the injury could have been signs of wear and tear on clay after her recent hectic programme which has seen her play 17 matches in 24 days in three countries.

with AAP

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