3/3 © Reuters. Tennis: Miami Open 2/3
(Reuters) – Ash Barty rejected suggestions that he had unfairly stayed in first place by choosing not to compete on the WTA Tour for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic preventing many from competing on the tour since March 2020, the WTA modified the ranking system last year to ensure that players were not penalized for no-shows. The format allowed the Australian to stay on top of the world despite rivals like Naomi Osaka winning Grand Slam titles in Barty’s absence. “I never have to prove anything to anyone,” Barty told reporters Saturday after she retained her Miami Open title when Canadian Bianca Andreescu withdrew mid-final due to an ankle injury. “I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking, but I did not play anything last year and I did not improve any of my points. Yes, I did not go down but I did not improve anything.” . I did not play at all. “There were girls who had the opportunity to improve theirs, so I felt like I deserved my place at the top of the rankings. The year we had in 2019 was incredible,” added Barty, who chose not to travel outside Australia for 12 months from March 2020. Barty secured the Miami Open in 2019 before capturing the French Open and WTA Finals. He started 2020 triumphing. at Adelaide International before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Tour to close for five months. “I can’t control what other people think or say,” said Barty, who was playing in his first tournament abroad since February. 2020. “Everyone needs to understand that this is a pandemic. It‘s probably a once in a lifetime thing for many of us, so it‘s a bit of a difficult situation.” On Saturday, the 24-year-old Australian was leading 6-3 3-0 when Andreescu earned a doctor timeout to have his foot and ankle bandaged. It failed to make a difference and after Barty extended her lead in the second set to 4-0, a dejected Andreescu shook her head and covered her face with her hands before retiring from the match in tears. Barty said he plans to compete in Charleston next week before heading to the Stuttgart Open in Germany.