Ash Barty's surprise announcement after Australian Open heartbreak
Ash Barty had made the surprise decision to accept a wildcard entry into the Adelaide International next week following her heartbreaking loss in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
The World No.1 had previously said she was planning to head to the Middle East following a short break after her Australian Open exit.
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The Aussie star has endured a gruelling recent schedule of 10 matches in the last three weeks.
However Barty surprised fans on Friday when she announced she'll be staying in Australia a little while longer to defend her Adelaide title.
"I am looking forward to coming back to Adelaide and having the opportunity to defend my title," Barty said.
"I feel grateful to get another week playing in front of Australian fans."
The 24-year-old will be the top seed at the $535,000 event, scheduled to be held from February 22-27 at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre.
"Ash has had great success here at Memorial Drive over the last couple of years and we'll welcome her with open arms, and cheer her on from the first serve," said Premier Steven Marshall.
"The fact that South Australia has been able to attract the world's No.1 female player is a massive coup, and we are super keen to celebrate Ash returning to our city."
Barty will be top seed, with 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek, former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and 2021 Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady her most obvious title threats.
After losing to Brady in her opening match of the summer last year in Brisbane, Barty snared her eighth career title in Adelaide before going on to reach the last four at the 2020 Australian Open.
Barty is expected to head to the Middle East next month to play WTA events in Doha and Dubai.
Barty accepts blame for Australian Open loss
Despite a controversial medical timeout from opponent Karolina Muchova that left many in the tennis world fuming, Barty refused to blame anyone else but herself after crashing out of the Australian Open.
The World No.1 capitulated from a set and a service break up in a shock 1-6 6-3 6-2 loss in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Barty never recovered after losing nine out of 11 games after the 27th-ranked Muchova took a tactical time-out while trailing the top seed 6-1 2-1 on Rod Laver Laver Arena.
Muchova later admitted she wasn't injured.
"I was a bit lost on the court and my head was spinning so I took a break and it helped me," she said.
"I started feeling a bit lost by the end of the first set. Ash started very good. She played like no mistakes. It was very tough."
But a gracious Barty declined to discredit the Czech, taking full ownership for her deflating defeat.
"It's within the rules. She's within her rights to take that time," Barty said.
"If she wasn't within the rules, the physios and the doctors would have said so.
"That's the laws of our game, that we have those medical time-outs for cases that are needed. Obviously she needed that today."
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