World No.1 Barty retires injured in Rome, two weeks from Roland Garros
Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns the ball to US Cori Gauff during their tennis match at the Women's Italian Open at Foro Italico on May 14, 2021 in Rome. AFP
World number one Ashleigh Barty retired injured in the Italian Open quarter-finals on Friday, just two weeks before Roland Garros.
Top seed Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, was leading 6-4, 2-1 when she pulled up to receive treatment during her match against American Coco Gauff.
The Australian suffered a right arm injury, the WTA said.
"The pain was becoming too severe," said Barty. "It was really important that I listen to my body knowing we have a Grand Slam in two weeks' time."
Barty added: "It's something I've had to manage over my career.
"It pops up every now and again. The conditions today didn't help," she said of the rainy conditions in the Italian capital.
"I'm confident in my team. We know how to manage this injury to know that in a couple of weeks it'll be fine."
Barty, 25, has won a Tour-leading 27 matches in 2021, and is among the favourites for the French Open which starts in Paris on May 30.
Her retirement allowed 17-year-old Gauff to reach her first clay-court semi-final where she will play fifth-seed Elina Svitolina or Poland's Iga Swiatek, the reigning Roland Garros champion.
Seven of the WTA's top 10 players have already exited the Foro Italico, including second seed Naomi Osaka, four-time Rome winner Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova.
Defending champion Simona Halep, the third seed and 2018 Roland Garros winner, was forced to pull out with a calf injury in her second-round match.