World number one Ash Barty will skip the WTA Finals to focus on her preparations for the Australian Open and the 2022 season.

Barty won five titles in 2021, including a victory at Wimbledon that marked the second grand slam title of her career.

She reached the semi-finals of her home major in 2019 and her determination to go one better in 2022 has led Barty to call an early end to her 2021 campaign.

"I wanted to let everyone know that I won't be competing in any further tournaments in 2021, including the WTA Finals in Mexico," said Barty.

"It was a difficult decision but I need to prioritise my body and my recovery from our 2021 season and focus on having the strongest preseason for the Australian summer.

"With the ongoing challenges of travelling back to Queensland and quarantine requirements, I am not willing to compromise my preparation for January.

"I wish the WTA team and the players all the best for a successful WTA Finals and rest of the year.

"My focus is now on the Australian summer and doing everything I can to win the Australian Open.

"I can't wait to play at home again."

Wimbledon champion and world number one Ash Barty has withdrawn from this month's Indian Wells Open. 

The Australian has not played since her surprise third-round defeat to Shelby Rogers at the US Open last month. 

Barty follows four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka in pulling out of the California event, the final WTA 1000 tournament of the year. 

The 25-year-old had indicated after her defeat at Flushing Meadows that she planned to play at Indian Wells. 

Defending champion Bianca Andreescu heads a strong field, with world number two Aryna Sabalenka, Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina and last year's Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin all taking part. 

Three other previous winners – Simona Halep, Elena Vesnina and Victoria Azarenka – will also be present, along with teenager Leylah Fernandez, who reached the US Open final. 

Top seed Ashleigh Barty insisted nerves did not get the better of her as she let slip a 5-2 lead in the third set to bow out of the US Open after a shock third round loss to Shelby Rogers on Saturday.

World number 43 Rogers stunned the 2021 Wimbledon champion 6-2 1-6 7-6 (7-5) in a seesawing contest that lasted two hours and eight minutes.

Barty had a double-break lead in the third set and served for the match, before Rogers stormed back to win the next four games and triumph in a tie-break in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd who cheered home the American.

It was the fourth time in the tournament that Barty had been broken serving for the match.

"No, I felt comfortable on the court," Barty told reporters when asked if there was an element of nerves. "I think that tension is natural. But I felt fine.

"I just didn't quite have enough physically or mentally in the tank but that's okay.

"We've had a great year so far. We're looking forward to celebrating the good stuff that we've done, learning from the hurt, learning from the experiences, and moving on."

Barty's third round exit adds to her ordinary record at Flushing Meadows, having never progressed further than the fourth round.

The Australian, who was absent from the US Open in 2020, was beaten by China's Wang Qiang in the 2019 fourth round as second seed, and went down to Karolina Pliskova at the same stage in 2018.

Barty would not be drawn on her record at Flushing Meadows, instead preferring to focus on her strong year, having been on the road for the past six months.

"The last six months have been a roller coaster," she said. "I think back to the very first match that I played on this trip. I was 5-2 down in the third set in the first round of Miami. Tennis has a funny way of evening things out, doesn't it?

"You can't win every single tennis match that you play. I'm proud of myself and my team for all the efforts we've put in in the last six months. It's been pretty incredible. I don't think we could have asked for much more honestly. I wouldn't change a thing.

"With all of the tough moments that we have had, it's created some of the most enjoyable experiences. I've learnt so much about myself, about them, the way that we work together. It's been truly an incredible six months."

Rogers becomes the first American woman to defeat the world number one in the first week of a major tournament since 1994, when Steffi Graf was shocked by Lori McNeil.

"I'm not sure I can," Rogers said on-court when asked how to describe the comeback from 5-2 down. "I tried to fight for every point. I didn’t want to leave, I said 'make balls, try to stay in this match'."

Rogers will face impressive British qualifier Emma Raducanu in the fourth round, while Barty confirmed she will now take a break but play at next month's Indian Wells.

Emma Raducanu came within one point of a sensational double bagel against Sara Sorribes Tormo and could face Ash Barty next at the US Open.

The 18-year-old Briton came through qualifying to make her Flushing Meadows bow this week.

And now Raducanu is remarkably into week two without dropping a set.

She saved her best performance yet for round three, winning 6-0 6-1 after passing up a match point on Sorribes Tormo's serve that would have sealed a flawless result.

Her place in the fourth round was a fine consolation for Raducanu, who reached the same stage at Wimbledon in July, then appearing in a grand slam main draw for the first time.

A match against Ajla Tomljanovic proved a step too far at the All England Club, but Raducanu may now get an opportunity to advance against another Australian.

If Barty beats Shelby Rogers later on Saturday, the world number one will face Raducanu next week – presumably far away from the Court 17 the teenager was consigned to on this occasion.

Given Sorribes Tormo beat Barty in straight sets in the first round of this year's Olympic Games, Raducanu should have nothing to fear.

"It's been two weeks in New York now," she told Prime Video. "And into the third week – I never thought I'd be here, but I'm just so, so excited."

Raducanu said of her latest triumph: "I was playing very well. I know Sara is an extremely tough opponent – she doesn't make a mistake, so you have to be on your game every single point.

"I had to work so hard, and there were some really, really long deuce games that could have gone either way, so I'm just really happy that I managed to maintain and stay on it and win in the end."

It was a far more comprehensive success than Raducanu was willing to admit, though, with the world number 150 having 11 break point opportunities to her opponent's zero.

Raducanu's blistering forehand averaged 92 miles per hour on serve, while she played 23 winners.

"Honestly, for this one, the plan was I had to hit through her, I had to hit the corners," she added. "If you trade against her, you're probably going to come out second best.

"I just took the game to her and hit more winners than errors today."

World number one Ash Barty said her serving struggles are "not a concern" after advancing to the US Open third round.

Barty continued her quest for a third grand slam title and first US Open crown with a 6-1 7-5 win over teenage prodigy Clara Tauson on Thursday.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Barty hit 33 winners and fired down 11 aces to see off the 18-year-old on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

Barty, though, had to stave off a late challenge just like the top seed did against Vera Zvonareva in the opening round.

After she faltered to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set of her victory over Tauson, Barty said: "It's happened a few times, but I have won 40-odd matches [this year] and it hasn’t happened a lot.

"It's just a few of those games I haven't been able to get up and hit my spots on first serves.

"When you give good players looks at second serves, you're going to get hurt. It's simple as that. It’s not a concern."

Barty leads the WTA Tour this season for titles won (five), match victories (42), finals reached (six), aces (319) and top-10 wins (seven).

"There's room for improvement, without a doubt, but there's room for improvement every single day," said Barty, who has never reached the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows.

"Credit to her, she was a little bit more aggressive in that second set. I got a little bit passive and just let my energy drop and allowed her back in.

"We'll go back and have a chat about the matches and, once we get back on the practice court, try and fix a few things up, trust myself and trying to continue to play how I want to play."

Next up for Australian star Barty is either 2020 US Open quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers or Sorana Cirstea.

World number one Ash Barty was relieved but happy with her response after surviving a first-round scare against Vera Zvonareva at the US Open.

Barty – the top seed back at Flushing Meadows after skipping the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic – booked her spot in the second round with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) victory but the Wimbledon champion endured a challenging opener in New York on Tuesday.

Despite firing down 11 aces to improve her WTA Tour-leading tally to 300 in 2021, and hitting 31 winners, veteran Zvonareva was a tricky first-up opponent for Australian star Barty.

A US Open and Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, Zvonareva made life difficult for Barty in the second set, earning a chance to force a decider but the 36-year-old was unable to capitalise at 7-6 in the tie-break.

Afterwards, Barty – who ranks first this season for titles (five), match victories (41), finals reached (six) and top-10 victories (seven) – told reporters: "Obviously a tough one against Vera straight up.

"She's an experienced campaigner. She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked [but] we're through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round.

"I think when my back was against the wall late in that buster, I came up with some really good stuff. That's all we can ask is when your back is against the wall, you trust yourself, you go out there and pick your spots and hit them."

Two-time grand slam champion Barty – fresh off winning in Cincinnati as Clara Tauson awaits in round two – added: "It obviously got really tense in that second set - tight - and in the bigger moments I was able to be aggressive and trust myself and that was a massive thing today.

"There were a couple of games where I had lapses in concentration but I was able to come through in straight sets and now we go back to the drawing board, work on a few things and we'll be as happy as Larry.

"I'm certainly happy to be through and playing again here in New York."

 

Novak Djokovic is a strong favourite to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and make history at the US Open.

Djokovic has won all three majors this year and can complete a 2021 clean sweep at Flushing Meadows.

The irrepressible world number one would also go beyond Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – both absent due to injury – with 21 grand slam singles titles if he triumphs in New York.

There will be no elusive record-equalling 24th major singles crown for Serena Williams, who has not recovered from the hamstring injury she suffered at Wimbledon.

With Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka the leading contenders to take the women's singles title, Stats Perform use Opta data to preview the final grand slam of the year.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES FOR DOMINANT DJOKOVIC

Djokovic was thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball.

The 34-year-old arrived in New York in far better spirits than when he left last September, having taken on all comers this year.

Djokovic missed out on a Golden Slam when he failed to win Olympic gold in Tokyo, but he could join Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) as the only men to win all four majors in the same year.

Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (970) and Steffi Graf (1988) are the only women to achieve the incredible feat.

 

BARTY TO GO BACK-TO-BACK?

Barty became the first Australian woman to win a Wimbledon singles title for 41 years in July.

Not since Williams in 2012 has a player claimed back-to-back women's singles major crowns in the same year, but Barty could take some stopping.

She could become the ninth woman in the Open Era to win Wimbledon and the US Open in the same season. 

Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams and Serena Williams can boast that achievement.

OSAKA BACK TO DEFEND TITLE

Japanese sensation Osaka won her third grand slam title at Flushing Meadows last September and went on to add a fourth at the Australian Open this year.

Osaka returns to grand slam action for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open, citing struggles with her mental health.

The world number three could be the first woman to win consecutive titles at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams claimed three in a row from 2012 to 2014.

Osaka is the only woman to win at least one major title over the past four seasons, winning the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, as well as the US Open in 2018 and last year.

 

ZVEREV BIDS TO BANISH PAINFUL MEMORIES

Alexander Zverev was beaten by Dominic Thiem in his maiden grand slam final in New York last year after the German had been two sets up.

He will not have to face Thiem this time around as the defending champion is sidelined due to injury.

Zverev was the only player to serve 100 or more aces during the tournament last year, firing down 131 but also racking up more double faults (64) than anyone else.

The world number four won his fourth title of the year in Cincinnati last week but Djokovic is undoubtedly the man to beat at Flushing Meadows.

Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Andy Murray and Ash Barty will take on 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva in the first round of the US Open.

French Open runner-up Tsitsipas and 2012 champion Murray is one of the standout matches in the opening round at Flushing Meadows.

Top seed Novak Djokovic will start his quest for a calendar Grand Slam against a qualifier in New York and could face a repeat of the Wimbledon final versus Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.

World number one Djokovic, a strong favourite for a record 21st major title with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer absent due to injury, could do battle with Alexander Zverev at the semi-final stage.

Daniil Medvedev, the second seed, is in the bottom half with Tsitsipas, who he could come up against in the semi-final. Medvedev's first test will come against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Barty could come up against Iga Swiatek in the last eight and Karolina Pliskova if she makes it through to the semi-finals.

Simona Halep's encounter with Camila Giorgi is a mouthwatering first-round match, while defending champion Naomi Osaka returns to grand slam action against former US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova.

Angelique Kerber could be a tough fourth round opponent for Osaka. Close friends Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens meet in another eye-catching first-round match.

There will be no Serena or Venus Williams at the final major of the year due to injuries.

World number one Ash Barty says her Western and Southern Open title holds her in "good stead" ahead of the U.S. Open which starts at Flushing Meadows next Monday.

The Australian defeated unheralded Swiss Jil Teichmann in straight sets in Sunday's final in Cincinnati in the perfect preparation for the U.S. Open.

Barty has never gone further than the fourth round at Flushing Meadows and did not compete in last year's U.S. Open due to COVID-19 concerns.

The 2021 Wimbledon champion, who also won the 2019 French Open crown, looms as a strong favourite for the women's singles title although she is typically refusing to get carried away.

"I think we're just excited that we've got matches under our belt in tough conditions here in Cincy, and that's put us in really good stead going into New York," Barty said.

"This week it was completely 'non-result-focused'. It was about preparing in the best way possible, knowing that we wanted to be ready for New York in a couple of weeks' time.

"Now that we've only got a week in between, we have played plenty of matches, and now it's about kind of refining as best we can to hopefully be feeling good come the first round in New York and just try and do the best that we can there."

On her favouritism, she added: "There are no certainties in sport, no certainties in tennis. It's just about playing each and every day as best you can as they come, and not focusing or concerning yourself or your self-worth with results."

Riding the wave of her Wimbledon triumph, Barty crashed out of the women's singles in the first round at Tokyo 2020 to Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo last month.

The Australian remained grounded after her Cincinnati victory and insisted preparations for the U.S. Open would stay normal.

"I think sometimes after big wins - and I felt it both times after the French Open and after Wimbledon - there's been a little bit of a big crash, more emotionally than anything else, because there's so much invested into that event," Barty said.

She added: "Our practice weeks before grand slams are quite normal. There is nothing fancy, no extra emphasis on anything.

"It's just gauged by how I'm feeling physically, how I'm feeling mentally, and we have had a lot of practice now as a team in being able to read each other and what we think is required.

"Then it's about going out there for the first round, whether it's the Monday or Tuesday, and try to do the best that I can. That's all I can ask of myself."

The draw for the U.S. Open will be revealed on Friday with Barty going in as the top women's seed, with Aryna Sabalenka second seed and reigning champion Naomi Osaka third.

Ash Barty won her first Western and Southern Open title on Sunday with a straight-sets defeat of Jil Teichmann in Cincinnati.

The world number one took her tally to 40 match wins and five WTA Tour titles in 2021 with a 6-3 6-1 victory.

Teichmann, ranked 76th in the world, had won all four of her meetings with top-10 players this season and accounted for Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic during this exceptional week.

Beating Barty, however, proved a step too far. The Australian recovered from some early jitters, winning 85 per cent of points behind her first serve and breaking her opponent five times.

Teichmann's resistance faltered as errors saw her fall 5-3 behind in the opener and Barty won eight straight games to take command of the contest.

Barty needed just one match point to see out the victory, the first at Cincinnati by an Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1973.

"I think being able to come through and play a really clean week and walk away with the title is probably not what I really expected of myself, but [it is] certainly nice," Barty, who did not drop a set all week, told the Tennis Channel.

Barty will be the firm favourite to win the US Open, where she has never before gone beyond the fourth round. The Flushing Meadows grand slam begins on Monday, August 30.

World number one Ash Barty reached yet another final on Saturday at the Western and Southern Open, where she will face wildcard Jil Teichmann.

Barty is through to her sixth title match of the season – and first in Cincinnati – after beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets.

In action on the WTA Tour for the first time since winning at Wimbledon, having gone to the Tokyo Olympics in the intervening period, the Australian came through a sloppy spell in the second set to advance 6-2 7-5.

Teichmann is next, taking on Barty for the first time after a stunning run continued with victory over Karolina Pliskova.

The world number 76 had already eliminated Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic and was a deserving 6-2 6-4 winner against Pliskova.

Barty finds the balance

Barty had been racing towards victory when she took the opener on Kerber's serve, her second break, and then went 2-0 up in the second.

But Kerber gave the favourite a scare by winning each of the next three games, belatedly finding joy against the Barty serve.

The All England Club champion has won more matches than any other player on tour this year, though, and regained her composure to break twice more for a 39th triumph of 2021.

"It's never, ever a walk in the park against Angie," Barty said. "She's an exceptional competitor and I think early on in that second set she went to another gear and it took me a few games to go with her.

"That was the change – she was able to lift her game and, even though there were some close games, she won the big points early on in the second set.

"I'm glad that I was able to find a way through there in the end.

"I had to find the balance of being aggressive and not getting too passive and letting Angie dictate.

"She moves exceptionally well, puts the balls in difficult positions, and I felt like when I was able to control the court I did a better job.

"In the games I got broken, she just saw too many second serves and was able to be assertive.

"I'm really happy to get through in the end, and to be playing for a title here in Cincinnati is awesome."

'Random' run wears on

Despite facing three seeds in succession, Teichmann has not dropped a set since losing the first against Osaka in the last 16.

Continuing that sequence against Barty will be a tough ask, but few would have anticipated Pliskova being brushed aside quite so easily.

Teichmann herself has no explanation for a sensational run of form.

"It's tough to explain," she said. "When I ask my coaches what they think of me, they always say, 'You're just an unexpected person, you do random things', so I guess that's one of them.

"I'm feeling really, really good here, the conditions, serving good, moving well, when I can I attack, I defend... What I'm feeling here, I cannot even describe it.

"It's a dream. I'm playing centre court, a final against the world number one. I cannot ask for anything else."

Ash Barty reached her sixth semi-final of the year after winning the battle of grand slam champions against Barbora Krejcikova at the Western & Southern Open.

World number one and top seed Barty – the Wimbledon titleholder – dispatched French Open champion Krejcikova in straight sets in Cincinnati on Friday.

Another slam champion awaits Barty in the form of Angelique Kerber, while wildcard Jil Teichmann continued her fairytale run with victory over Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic.

 

Coffee the tonic for in-form Barty

Australian star Barty was too good for Krejcikova, winning 6-2 6-4 at the WTA 1000 tournament.

Barty had to battle from a break down in the second set against the fast-rising Krejcikova, who has shot up from 65th in the world to a career high of number 10 this year.

After extending her season record to 38-7, Barty talked about the importance of drinking coffee in the morning.

"I travel with a French press and an AeroPress, just to have two options. Usually every tournament we go to, one of us has a cafe that we have been to before, so I have got a little section of all my local cafes from the tournaments, so we try and get out to those if we can," she said.

"This year, some places we haven't been able to; some places we have. It's been nice to get some sort of a mixture, but I'm pretty simple. I'm just a black coffee cup in the morning, and then I'm set."

Three-time major champion Kerber is next up after she was 6-4 3-3 ahead before Petra Kvitova retired hurt due to a stomach problem.

 

Teichmann takes down another star

Unheralded Swiss and world number 76 Teichmann claimed another scalp, this time upstaging countrywoman Bencic 6-3 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

Teichmann stunned world number two Naomi Osaka en route to the quarters and maintained her giant-slaying form in Cincinnati, where 10th seed Bencic became the latest victim.

"We hugged before the match; we hugged after the match," Teichmann said of the Bencic meeting. "We know that once we step on court it's business, it's just another player I have to deal with, and she had the same mindset. At the beginning it's obviously a bit special, but once we're in it, we just look at the game, not looking at the opponent, or at least I do that way."

Teichmann will take on fifth seed Karolina Pliskova, who advanced to her second successive WTA 1000 semi-final after Paula Badosa retired down 7-5 2-0.

Ash Barty and Angelique Kerber set up a blockbuster Western and Southern Open semi-final – but Petra Kvitova suffered a fitness scare ahead of the US Open.

World number one Barty won 6-2 6-4 against French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who she also defeated in the fourth round during her Wimbledon title run last month.

Kerber and Kvitova then battled it out for the right to tackle Barty in the last four, but a quarter-final that was building momentum ended prematurely when two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova found a recent stomach problem too troublesome.

Kerber was 6-4 3-3 ahead in the contest, having recovered from being an early break down in the second set, getting her game together as 31-year-old Kvitova began to suffer.

During an injury timeout, which Kvitova called after the fifth game of the second set, the Czech received a massage to her abdominal region and played on briefly, before walking up to the net to concede the match.

It remains to be seen whether the setback in Cincinnati might have consequences for her involvement at Flushing Meadows, with the US Open due to begin on August 30.

Kvitova wrote on Twitter minutes after coming off court: "I stayed out there as long as I could. I have been struggling with a stomach issue for several days and unfortunately couldn't finish the match today. Good luck Angie - sorry to end it that way - and can't wait for the next battle with you."

Kerber said in an on-court interview: "Of course, this is not the way you would want to win the match. I hope Petra will recover as fast as possible and be ready for the US Open.

"I know she's a big fighter and fights until the last points, so I hope she is not too bad and hope she is fine really, really soon."

Kerber has now won 14 of her last 15 matches, with the exception being her Wimbledon semi-final defeat to Barty.

Barty got through in a more routine manner on Friday, albeit having to battle from a break down in the second set against the fast-rising Krejcikova, who has shot up from 65th in the world to a career high of number 10 this year.

Barty said: "Barbora served exceptionally well early in that second set and was able to take advantage of a service game of mine where I just hit too many second serves.

"I wanted to try and get a little bit more positive on her service games and then try to get myself in the points a little bit more. I'm happy to run away with that one in the end."

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