Barty smacks down critics after maintaining No. 1 stranglehold

World No. 1 Ash Barty retained her Miami Open title and her top spot in the WTA rankings as Bianca Andreescu’s injury curse struck again.

Barty completed a 6-3 4-0 victory after Andreescu was forced to retire in tears with an injury to her right ankle in the second set at the Hard Rock Stadium.

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The Australian star had dominated her Canadian opponent throughout the contest behind a powerful service game and accurate forehand.

The end came soon after the third game of the second set, when Andreescu collapsed to the court after rolling her right ankle during her service game.

Barty broke for a 3-0 lead as Andreescu, clearly struggling to move properly battled on. Despite being heavily strapped on her ankle, Andreescu retired soon afterwards, unable to continue.

It was a bitterly disappointing end for Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion who missed the first few months of the 2020 season with a knee injury before last year’s pandemic shutdown.

“Definitely not the way I wanted to end the tournament, but I’m super-grateful nonetheless,” Andreescu, 20, said in comments on court after her defeat.

“I got to the final in one of my first tournaments in a while and I couldn’t be more happy.

“For me, getting back on my feet wasn’t easy, but I continued to believe in myself and I never gave up.

“So to everyone who’s going through a tough time like me right now, I just want to say keep your head up and continue to believe in yourself.”

Andreescu’s rotten luck continued.Source:Getty Images

Barty, meanwhile, was left to reflect on a clinical victory in what was her first overseas appearance since the WTA Tour resumed after the shutdown.

“It’s been the perfect start for us,” said Barty. “Hopefully, it’s going to be a long and successful season. It’s a brilliant start.”

She also had a blunt message about her No. 1 status, which has been a talking point because some believe she doesn’t deserve the top spot — a position she’s held onto partly due to the anomalies of the rankings system, which was frozen last year during the pandemic.

Despite sitting out for almost all of 2020, Barty’s reign continued — much to many people’s confusion — as Naomi Osaka blew to chance to usurp the Aussie by bombing out of the Miami Open early.

“I never have to prove anything to anyone. I know all the work that I do with my team behind the scene,” Barty said.

“I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking, 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.”

On those critical of her No. 1 standing, Barty added: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That’s absolutely fine. I can’t control what anyone else thinks or what anyone else says.

“I feel like we deserve to be top of the rankings.

“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.

“It doesn’t 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.”

Miami Open tournament director James Blake is also firmly in Barty’s corner. “For those that don’t know Ash, she’s one of the most humble, gracious, down-to-earth No. 1s in the world that’s ever been around, so thank you for being our champion, Ash,” he said in the post-match presentation.

Winners are grinners.Source:AFP

Barty now heads to next week’s Charleston event as she prepares for the clay court season.

The 24-year-old from Queensland controlled the match from the outset, moving Andreescu around the court relentlessly with accurate first serves and heavy groundstrokes.

After opening with a convincing hold of serve, Barty broke Andreescu in the second game, taking a 2-0 lead with a bludgeoning forehand that gave the Canadian no chance.

Another hold of serve put Barty 3-0 up, and although Andreescu took advantage of an erratic service game from the Australian to break back and close the deficit to 3-2, it was only a temporary reprieve.

Barty broke back immediately to go 4-2 ahead and then held easily for a 5-2 lead. Andreescu held for 5-3 but was unable to find a way through Barty’s serve as the world No. 1 took the first set in the next game.

Andreescu was soon under pressure in the second set, suffering an early break to go 2-0 down.

She then appeared to roll an ankle while serving in the third game and crumpled to the court. She managed to continue but Barty broke again for 3-0 lead and the end followed soon afterwards when the youngster retired.

The Barty Party rolls on.Source:Getty Images

With AFP

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