The Barty Party is in town: World No.1 Ash Barty will FINALLY return to the court next week as she joins tennis superstars in front of a 8,000-strong crowd
- Australian world No.1 Ash Barty will return to tennis court at exhibition next week
- ‘A Day at the Drive’ will be held at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide
- Barty, 24, has not competed in 11 months since the Qatar Open in February
Australian world No.1 Ash Barty (pictured in December 2019) will finally make her return to the court next week
Australian world No.1 Ash Barty will finally make her return to the court in front of 8,000 tennis fans at the star-studded exhibition in Adelaide next week.
Barty hasn’t played in 11 months but is a confirmed starter alongside world No.2 Simona Halep, third-ranked Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams.
The one-off event, called ‘A Day at the Drive’, will be held at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre on Friday January 29, ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne on February 8.
There are an impressive 67 Grand Slam single titles between the star-studded competitors taking to the court for the exhibition.
‘I am looking forward to playing my first match for the 2021 season in Adelaide,’ Barty said.
Barty, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last year, hasn’t played a competitive match since she was a semi-finalist at the Qatar Open in February
Barty is a confirmed starter alongside world No.2 Simona Halep, third-ranked Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams. Pictured: Williams arrives in Adelaide on January 14
‘I have fond memories from the Adelaide International last year and it will be great to get back on court here for A Day at the Drive.’
Barty, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last year, hasn’t played a competitive match since she was a semi-finalist at the Qatar Open in February.
She skipped last year’s US Open and the French Open, where she was set to defend her title, due to the threat of Covid-19.
The 24-year-old cited the health risks plus poor preparation when she was separated from her coach due to Australia’s border restrictions.
Following Adelaide she will contest the WTA 500 tournament at Melbourne Park in the lead-up to day one of the Australian Open on February 8.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said it was a ‘massive win’ for tennis fans to have Barty back in Adelaide.
The men’s line-up includes the top-three ranked players – Novak Djokovic (pictured on Wednesday), Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem
‘She’s everything we love in a champion – and I’m sure when she plays at Memorial Drive next week the crowd is going to welcome her with open arms,’ Mr Marshall said.
‘It will be a day to remember.’
There will be two sessions for A Day at the Drive.
The venue capacity has also been reduced in line with state government guidelines, which were brought in to keep the community safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s understood about 8,000 spectators will attend the event over the two sessions.
The schedule of play is yet to be announced.
Naomi Osaka uses a video camera as she returns with teammates to her hotel after a practice session in Adelaide on January 18
This year’s Australian Open is going ahead despite strict coronavirus border closures requiring players and staff from overseas to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine.
The Grand Slam has been marred by controversy after some 72 players were plunged into hard lockdown because they arrived in Melbourne on flights where passengers later tested positive to coronavirus.
The competitors are at a significant disadvantage in preparing for the Open, as other players who were not on those flights are allowed out of their rooms for up to five hours a day to practice.
A number of players have used social media to detail the hardships of being in lockdown ahead of the Open.