Australian preparations for the French Open have hit a speed bump with Ashleigh Barty injured, John Millman eliminated from a warm-up tournament and only three Australians left in qualifying. Barty pulled out of her first-round match at the Strasbourg International against compatriot Daria Gavrilova on Tuesday with a right arm injury – one she has had on and off since she was 16.
“I felt that it was back. I tested myself, but this morning [Tuesday], I knew that I will not be able to play,” she told tournament media. “Next week there is Roland-Garros … Then it’s the grass season. I will have two very busy months. For now, the only thing to do is to spend two or three days without touching the racket. I hope that I will be 100% … next week,” she said.
Millman’s preparations for Sunday’s grand slam have also been hampered after he was knocked out of the Lyon tournament’s last 16 by Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (7-3), 7-5. The Australian fought hard to push the first set to tiebreak but crumbled to the Canadian’s powerful service game on the centre court. Aliassime will face Frenchman Ugo Umbert, who knocked out British No 1 Cameron Norrie, in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Jason Kubler is the only Australian man left alive in French Open qualifying after compatriot Alex Bolt was eliminated in straight sets by Adrian Menendez-Maceiras. Bolt struck more winners but his 41 unforced errors helped hand the opener to the Spaniard, who won 6-2, 6-2 on Court 11 at the Stade Roland Garros on Tuesday.
Former world junior No 1 Kubler, who is battling back from injuries, is now the final Australian male player left in qualifying. The 26-year-old is set to face Serbian veteran Viktor Triocki in the second round on Wednesday.
Two Australian women are set to launch their own bids to join the main draw in Paris later in the day. Kimberley Birrell faces Greek Valentini Grammatikopoulou, while compatriot Arina Rodionova takes on Swiss ace Conny Perrin.
Wet weather also interrupted the French Open preparations of Australians Gavrilova, Astrid Sharma and Sam Stosur at the Strasbourg event. Gavrilova’s opener with Latvian Diana Marcinkevica, and the last-16 clashes of Sharma and Puerto Rican Monica Puig and Stosur and Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, were postponed until Wednesday.