Former French Open finalist Sam Stosur feels Ash Barty’s forced withdrawal from a lead-in tournament could work in her favour as the grand slam gets underway next week.
Stosur is confident that world No.1 Barty will be at 100 per cent at Roland Garros, where she claimed her breakthrough major title in 2019 but missed defending last year after opting not to travel overseas through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two weeks ago, Barty withdrew while leading her Italian Open quarter-final against Coco Gauff, citing an arm injury.
But former world No.4 Stosur says Barty has managed the injury throughout her career and doesn’t expect it to affect her French Open campaign.
She felt that the extra break, after a heavy load of 17 matches in 24 days in three countries, could be a blessing for Barty.
“I wouldn’t be too concerned about her injury,” said Stosur, who is a four-time French Open semi-finalist and a beaten finalist in 2010.
“That’s just part and parcel with playing so much. There’s bound to be little niggles.
“It’s a sensible decision to not push too hard in the week or two before Roland Garros.
“That’s something that she struggles with on and off throughout the year, depending on the conditions.
“I’m sure she’s rested up and has had had some good days off, some good practice, and I’m sure she’s going to be 100 per cent going into her first match.”
The 37-year-old, who isn’t playing in Paris due to a foot injury, said Barty’s form had been superb since heading overseas after the Australian Open, where she made the quarter-finals.
“Right from when she left, she won Miami and hasn’t missed a beat since,” Stosur said.
“She’s playing extraordinarily well. She’s played many, many good tough matches and has been tested and she’s got though them.”
Despite Barty’s form and top ranking, she has been relegated to second favourite with bookmakers behind 2020 champion, Polish teen Iga Swiatek, who won in Rome.
Stosur said while those two would be the headline act, a dark horse could emerge.
“You’re definitely going to be looking at them as they’ve had good form going into the event,” she said.
“There’s a good handful of players who are going to be there but it’s a it’s a slam so you never know what can happen.
“If it’s anything like last year you’ll see a qualifier make semis.”