World number one Ashleigh Barty defended her Miami Open title in less-than-ideal circumstances after Bianca Andreescu was forced to withdraw from the final after spraining her ankle in the second set as Barty led 6-3, 4. -0.
Barty had opened the game with an impeccable display of offensive tennis for an hour, dominating with his serve and forehand as he moved to a 6-3, 2-0 lead. However, when Andreescu tried to contain a double break in the second set, he fell while chasing a ball and twisted his right ankle. After a medical break, he finally retired.
“It’s brutal,” Barty said. “It is never the way you want to end a tennis match. I feel sorry for Bianca. She has had many injuries in her very young career and that has slowed her down in some of the most important moments. I hope it’s the first of many battles for us for me, but you’ve never liked seeing her hurt at all. “
The game itself was almost more significant than the result, as two of the brightest young stars simultaneously rediscovered their best form in Miami after long hiatuses. Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, tore her meniscus in the final tournament of the 2019 season and was missing for 15 months. Barty, who won Roland Garros that year and was ranked No. 1, missed a year after deciding not to travel during the early stages of the pandemic. This marked the first meeting in what could form a defining rivalry of the decade.
Both Barty and Andreescu are blessed with a vast and deep box of shooting tools that they use to interrupt and suffocate opponents, but it was Barty’s tactical clarity that triumphed. He immediately impressed his authority on the match, flitting to an early break advantage and never looking back.
Barty has returned from her hiatus with more rhythm on her first serve and her ability to consistently create free points and easy right hands is in stark contrast to Andreescu, whose ineffective serve forced her to work hard for every point. Barty finished with 81% of points earned on the first serve, dropping the serve only once.
The win marks a fitting return to the sport’s most important stages for Barty. After saving a match point in her opening match against Kristina Kucova, she ended the week with three consecutive top-10 victories against Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina and Andreescu. Her title defense means that she has won 15 of her first 17 matches on her return, with two titles, and holds a huge lead over Naomi Osaka at No. 1. She is unlikely to be caught before Roland Garros.
Andreescu, whose young career has been defined by both injuries and prodigious talent, cried when he conceded the match and then immediately hugged his team. Later, she noted that she doesn’t want to have a reputation for being prone to injury, but that it may be too late. It’s clear that while your talent is undeniable, your health will dictate your future. His injury history was in itself a reason why he decided to retire at the suggestion of his physical trainer, Abdul Sillah.
“I’ve been through it, continually pushing myself and to the point where it made it worse,” Andreescu said. “Yes, he just saved me from myself. I said, I don’t want to. But I trusted him. I knew it was the best decision. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism