Adelaide: Ashleigh Barty plans to use next week’s ATP-WTA Adelaide International to put the final polish on her Australian Open preparations after a shock defeat in Brisbane.
The world No. 1 headlines the new event starting on Sunday, part of a revised calendar in the run-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year which begins on January 20.
The Australian star will be desperate for court time after crashing at the first hurdle this week to American qualifier Jennifer Brady at the Brisbane International.
The men’s draw in Adelaide is spearheaded by Australian Alex De Minaur after world No. 2 Novak Djokovic pulled out on Saturday as he guides Serbia at the ATP Cup in Sydney, where they have made the final.
Barty denied beginning the season as the top-ranked player in front of her home fans had put extra pressure on.
“I’m just trying to do the best that I can and obviously ... try and play my best tennis,” Barty, who is assured of keeping the top ranking through to the end of the Australian Open, said after her Brisbane exit on Thursday.
She will begin in the second round at Adelaide, joining second seed Simona Halep with a bye.
Former world No. 1 Halep, a finalist at Wimbledon last year, will be making her 2020 start with Adelaide-born coach Darren Cahill back in charge after taking a year off.
Top 10 players Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens are also in the field, along with world No. 8 Belinda Bencic who was given a wildcard entry when Venus Williams withdrew injured.
Barty had said she expected to quickly pick up the pieces of her game after her Brisbane setback.
“It’s rare in sport that you get an opportunity every single week and so quickly ... that’s one of the beautiful things about tennis,” she said.
“The next week you get a chance in Adelaide to come out there and try and execute that little bit better.”
Along with De Minaur, the men’s field features Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
The now-retired Lleyton Hewitt, Australia’s Davis and ATP Cup captain, will try and re-live the old days, teaming with Jordan Thompson for the doubles.