Thursday, December 9, 2021

Ash Barty pulls out of remaining 2021 WTA season to focus on Aus Open 2022

Aussie tennis champion Ash Barty has officially decided to pull out of the remainder of the 2021 WTA season, including the $US14 million ($A19m) WTA Finals.

Barty has not played in a tournament since she was knocked of the US Open in the third round to American star Shelby Rogers.

Barty was exhausted after winning the Wimbledon title, one of five tournaments where the World No. 1 maintained her stranglehold as the best women’s tennis player in the world.

But while there are still some tournaments to play, Barty has decided to skip the remainder of the season, having spent a majority of the year due to quarantine requirements in Australia.

While Barty returned to Australia for two weeks of hotel quarantine in September, she hadn’t officially pulled out of the season-ending WTA Finals as a $5 million ($6.7m) cheque awaits the winner of the lucrative tournament.

Until now that is.

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“I wanted to let everyone know that I won’t be competing in any further tournaments in 2021, including the WTA Finals in Mexico,’’ Barty said in a statement.

“It was a difficult decision but I need to prioritise my body and my recovery from our 2021 season and focus on having the strongest pre-season for the Australian summer.

“With the ongoing challenges of travelling back to Queensland and quarantine requirements, I am not willing to compromise my preparation for January.

“I wish the WTA team and the players all the best for a successful WTA Finals and rest of the year.

“My focus is now on the Australian summer and doing everything I can to win the Australian Open. I can’t wait to play at home again.”

Barty had 68 negative Covid-19 tests this year, having left Australian shores in March after the Australian summer and not returning until September.

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Barty had previously backed out of the likes of Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup team — formerly Fed Cup — and the Indian Wells tournament.

The 25-year-old and her coach Craig Tyzzer also placed plenty of doubt on their participation at the WTA Finals when it was moved from Shenzhen in China to Guadalajara, Mexico, which is at altitude.

“We only just found out it’s in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they’re using pressure-less balls,” Tyzzer told AAP in September.

“Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It’s a ball that, if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn’t bounce. It’s not the greatest advertisement for the best girls in the world to be playing something they’ve never done before.

“In conditions they’ve never played, in a country they don’t play and at altitude, I just feel it’s ridiculous. As a spectacle, it’s just frightening.”

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