Ash Barty has withdrawn from the Australian Open doubles amid concerns the world No.1’s thigh strain is more serious than she is letting on.
Barty and American Jennifer Brady were scheduled to play Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens in the second round on Friday but handed the second seeds a walkover.
Australia’s singles top seed raised eyebrows when she had her left thigh heavily strapped during Thursday’s 6-1 7-6 (9-7) second-round win over Fed Cup teammate Daria Gavrilova.
But the 24-year-old played down the injury, with Team Barty today saying it was merely “muscle soreness” after a gruelling schedule of seven matches in less than a fortnight following almost a year-long lay-off.
“The bandage is very big, but that’s more just support so that the tape itself doesn’t fall off,” Barty said.
“It’s not a very subtle tape job. You often see it on a lot of the girls.
“The guys can hide it beneath their shorts a little bit better. Just a little bit of support. I played a lot of matches in the last 10 days after not playing for 12 months, which is natural.
“It’s more of an assistance than anything else.”
Barty said she first felt the niggle while warming up for Tuesday’s first round.
“But, yeah, obviously it’s not affecting the way that I can play in any way,“ she said.
“It’s just more giving the leg some assistance to make sure it doesn’t get to a point where it’s going to affect me.”
Barty will face 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in a third-round clash on Saturday.