Just 24 hours after clinching the Adelaide International title world No.1 Ash Barty has withdrawn from the Sydney Tennis Classic to dial in her focus on winning a first Australian Open.
Winning her home grand slam remains Barty’s major goal, especially after she ticked off her childhood Wimbledon dream last year, and she has made the change to her lead-in after her victory on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, I am withdrawing from the Sydney Tennis Classic to have some time to recover before the Australian Open,” Barty said in a statement.
“I’m sorry I won’t get the chance to play in front of the Sydney fans this year, I hope to see you all again soon. I wish the players and the tournament team all the best for the week ahead.”
Barty, who was the top-seed in Sydney, will instead stay in Melbourne to prepare for next week’s opening Grand Slam of the year.
“I feel good leading up to an Australian Open, like I have every year,” she said after her win in Adelaide.
“Each and every preparation is unique … so we take it for what comes and what it is, move on and try and do the best that we can in every opportunity, whether that’s here in Adelaide or in Melbourne.
“It has absolutely no effect on the way that I prepare or the way I’m thinking leading forward just because it’s a grand slam.”
Barty will carry the hopes of a nation that hasn’t seen a local man or woman hold aloft an Australian Open singles trophy since Chris O‘Neil way back in 1978.
It’s the third-straight year the 25-year-old has claimed a title in Australia and fifth time in a row she has made at least a final before the Melbourne Park major.
Barty maintained her trend in Adelaide of rising to the task once she was challenged, posting a runaway 6-3 6-2 defeat of 14th-ranked Elena Rybakina, of Kazakhstan, in barely an hour.
She struck more winners (17-15) and fewer unforced errors (13-26) than Rybakina in another masterful display.
“I felt like when my back was against the wall this week; I was able to have some real clarity with what I wanted to do and the patterns that I wanted to play,” Barty said.
“That’s a bonus – you can’t always execute like that.
“The more times you can execute and try and bring it back to your patterns when it matters most is a really important factor in my game and a lot of people‘s games.”
Opponents rarely get more than one chance against Barty, but Rybakina paid dearly for not capitalising on consecutive opportunities that would have seen her grab an early lead.
Barty saved them in the blink of an eye without Rybakina getting much of a look in.