Ash Barty has withdrawn from the WTA Montreal Masters next month for a period of rest following her first-round shock loss at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tournament officials made the announcement on Thursday, with Australia’s No. 1 joining German Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams in skipping the hardcourt event which begins August 7.

 “My team and I have made the decision to withdraw to have a few weeks to rest and recover from the heavy schedule of the last month,” Barty said in a statement.

“While it saddens me that I won’t be able to go this year, I fully intend to come back when the tour returns to Montréal in 2023.”

Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam winner and 2016 Canada semi-finalist at the event which alternates each year between Montreal and Toronto, said she is not ready to resume competition.

Her last match was a semi-final loss to Barty at Wimbledon. Venus Williams, who played the 2014 final but has not been past the third round since, also withdrew due to ill health.

Officials put their best spin on the situation with news that former No. 1  and two-time champion Simona Halep would play her first match in almost three months.

Romanian Simona Halep struggles off court with a calf injury in Rome in May.

The Romanian has been out since Rome in mid-May with a calf injury and has dropped to 10th in the world.

Halep will be playing Canada for a ninth time and will enter on a wild card.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back to Montréal for the first time since winning my second title there in 2018,” Halep said.

“I’ve been working hard to prepare for the North American swing so I’m excited to accept this wild card. I’m happy to hear we will have support from the stands.”

Both Montreal and the same week’s ATP Masters in Toronto will be allowed limited spectators after a government decision this month loosening some COVID restrictions.


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