WTA

Pliskova cannot comprehend Barty's retirement but thinks Australian will return

By Sports Desk April 08, 2022

Karolina Pliskova believes Ash Barty could return to tennis following her surprise retirement in March, but the Czech acknowledged she could not relate to the decision as she "likes the game too much".

Barty became just the second player to call quits on their playing career when ranked as world number one, after Justine Henin, with a shock announcement last month.

The 25-year-old cited a lack of "physical drive and emotional want" to compete despite claiming her second grand slam title at the Australian Open just two months before.

However, just as Henin did after retiring, former world number one Pliskova has a feeling that Barty, who defeated her in the 2021 Wimbledon final, may also return to the court in future.

"I was shocked because I'm not really on Twitter because I don't want to get too much information for myself," Pliskova told the WTA on Barty's retirement.

"But somebody messaged me and said, 'Oh, did you see the news?' It was 11:00 in the evening in Miami. I was like, 'No, no, did somebody cry again or something?' They said, 'No, no, Ashleigh, she stopped.' I'm like, 'No way, that's not possible. Tell me the reason.' 

"I understand everybody's different. For me, it's not understandable at all because I just like the game so much. But I understand somebody maybe suffers, somebody doesn't like to travel.

"She basically won everything that she wanted to win, I suppose maybe she had no motivation. If you hate this tennis life and it's not what you always wanted to do, I think it's good to stop. 

"But I was surprised and shocked. I thought she was a really good number one for our sport and she was there for a while. Of course now, Iga [Swiatek] is a really good player, but I just thought Ashleigh was a good person and she had good charisma. I'm going to miss her. 

"But you never know. I think maybe she's going to come back. And then she's just going to be 27."

Meanwhile, Pliskova is focusing on her comeback as she continues to recover from a freak gym accident that resulted in a broken arm, which delayed the start of her new campaign by two months.

The 30-year-old, who has reached two major finals, made an encouraging return as she defeated Ukraine's Katarina Zavatska at Charleston Open but fell to Ekaterina Alexandrova on Friday.

"It was tough because people who follow tennis or me, they know I don't really have injuries," she added. "Even if I feel something, I still play. I never skip anything, not even practice or a tournament.

"The only break I had was this Covid break and I don't think that helped me. This injury was a bit more serious because I could not use my arm. I had a cast for a month or two. So it was quite a difficult time.

"I think things are going quite well. I just try to take the positives out of it, that I'm able to play after a couple months. It's been too long for me because with the offseason together, I missed four or five months.

"I know I'm not the player which can have five months at home and then I come in and win a tournament. I need some time to go through the feelings and the matches. I know it's going to take time, but just happy to be back."

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