World No 1 pulls out of warm-up event to concentrate on Australian Open

Ashleigh Barty clapping

Ashleigh Barty has withdrawn from the Sydney Tennis Classic after winning the Adelaide International, to focus on her Australian Open campaign.

The 25-year-old claimed victory at the warm-up event in Adelaide last week, beating Russian-born Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina in the final to win the singles title – the 14th of her career – and then teaming up with Storm Sanders to come away from the tournament with the doubles title as well.

Although she certainly has the momentum, the Australian might not want to risk injury or contracting Covid-19 given case numbers are rising dramatically in the country, and also could just want a bit of a break before the first Grand Slam of the season.

“Unfortunately I am withdrawing from the Sydney Tennis Classic to have some time to recover before the Australian Open, the world No 1 said.

“I’m sorry I won’t get the chance to play in front of the Sydney fans this year.”

Despite not picking up a racket competitively for four months, her last match being a shock third round loss to Shelby Rogers at the US Open in September, Barty saw off quality opponents at the Adelaide International including No 19 Coco Gauff, Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek who was due to face Emma Raducanu in the first round in Sydney but she too has pulled out in order to get more recovery time in ahead of the Grand Slam.

The Wimbledon champion was due to be the top seed at the warm-up competition, but that spot has now been given to Spanish player Garbine Muguruza, and Barty’s first-round bye has been given to world No 4 Barbora Krejcikova who will be facing 23-year-old Jacqueline Cristian from Romania in the round of 16.

The Sydney Tennis Classic runs until January 15 and the Australian Open kicks off on January 17.