Top spot goes begging as Barty upset
Ashleigh Barty's chance to move back to No. 1 was only one victory away. At the end of an up-and-down week, she didn't have another one left in her.
Barty lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open, adding to the tournament's week of upsets and injuries. The women's bracket has a lot questions with New York just around the corner.
No. 1 isn't one of them.
Barty's seven-week run atop the field ended when Naomi Osaka edged ahead of her in the latest rankings.
A semi-final would have moved Barty back ahead for the Open. Instead, she dropped the opening set for the third straight match and this time, there was no digging out.
"A week that we battled through," Barty said. "I think at times I played some good stuff. At times, I played some pretty awful stuff."
Which will it be for Barty at the Open? And will Osaka be in good enough shape to defend her title?
Osaka dropped out of her semi-final match with discomfort in her left knee that caused her worry. She still plans to play in New York, but it's unclear whether the knee will be a problem.
And then there's Serena Williams, who retired in the finals at Toronto last Sunday because of back spasms.
She also withdrew from Cincinnati before her first match, but stuck around to cheer sister Venus until her loss in the quarterfinals.
For Barty, it was another instance of a slow start leaving her trying to dig out. This time, a resurgent Kuznetsova gave her no openings, knocking off a top-five player for the second time this week to reach her first final of the season.
"Sveta was unreal today," Barty said.
Ash #Barty has missed her chance to return to number one in the world after losing to Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters.— André Leslie (@andreleslie) August 17, 2019
It's been a while since her play has been described that way. The 153rd-ranked player is recovering from seven-month lay-off because of a knee injury.
Playing in her ninth event of the season, she got her game together, winning her first premier-level semi-final since 2017 at Madrid.
"Well, sometimes in life it's like this," Kuznetsova said. "It's like really small things change everything. Definitely it's different momentum I have now."
Madison Keys claimed victory in the second semi-final, defeating Sofia Kenin 7-5, 6-4 to move through into the final.
In the men's bracket, David Goffin reached his first Masters 1000 final by beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4.
Goffin is on an upswing after falling to No. 33 in the ATP rankings on June 10, his lowest since September 2014.
"Of course, it was a tough period there," Goffin said. "I was coming back from injuries. I had some trouble with my confidence. I couldn't find my rhythm, my game. So it's great now. I'm feeling great. I'm back at my best tennis."
Defending champion Novak Djokovic is scheduled to take on Daniil Medvedev at 8am (AEST).