Australian tennis star Ashleigh Barty is on a comeback trail after a season away from tennis and will feature in a WTA event in Melbourne to get back in the groove and regain her competitive edge ahead of her home Grand Slam.
Currently, the top-ranked player in the women’s game, Barty opted out of all events after the Australian Open last season, including the remaining Grand Slams, owing to concerns around the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It is understood that the 2019 French Open champion will either play the Gippsland Trophy or Yarra Valley Classic, two of the five scheduled WTA and ATP events at Melbourne Park ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.
The five events, which will be staged close to each other, include the two WTA 500 tournaments, two ATP 250 events, and the ATP Cup team event, involving 12 nations.
Barty couldn’t defend her French Open crown last year as she prioritized her health over tennis. The women’s events would attract 49 of the top 50 players.
With eight career WTA titles under her belt already, Barty, despite her year-long, self-enforced break from tennis, would go into her home Grand Slams as one of the title favorites.
The 24-year-old came close to clinching her second Grand Slam title before her home crowd at Melbourne Park, but her run was ended in the semifinal by eventual champion Sofia Kenin of the US.
Her country mate Nick Kyrgios will also play one of the men’s tune-up events, named the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open, in the quest of getting himself into top physical shape and playing form ahead of the all-important Grand Slam.
Kyrgios, it is learned, will not put his name in the draw for the ATP Cup in Brisbane and will instead focus on the singles event.
The hugely promising Alex De Minaur and John Millman will lead the Australian charge in singles at the team event.
Kyrgios, too, raised visions of a maiden Grand Slam win at home last year by progressing to the fourth round. However, he lost in four sets to Rafael Nadal in the round-of-16 tie.