Travel delays can't dampen Barty's desire

·2-min read

Most tennis players are accustomed to long-haul flights and almost non-stop travel but Ash Barty had to admit her almost 50-hour trip to Florida to begin her title defence at the Miami Open was a bit jarring.

Barty has spent the past year home in Australia, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Miami her first tournament abroad since February 2020.

"It was a long one," Barty said.

"It was about 48 hours, 45 hours door-to-door, for us.

"What should have been quite a simple Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to LA, LA on to Miami, it's usually quite an easy trip.

"We had a fight cancellation leaving Australia, another fight cancellation when we got to LA.

"It was quite a wriggle around."

World No.1 Barty won the Miami event in 2019, with last year's event wiped out because of coronavirus, but not even a longer than expected trip can dampen her spirits.

"Tough playing tennis after travelling again. Quite a while since I've done that," Barty said.

"I'm looking forward to feeling good in another day's time and we'll be ready to go.

"Nice to be back competing, doing what we love."

Barty's campaign in the 128-player WTA 1000 event field will begin against a qualifier.

Barty is mounting her title defence in Miami before what she hopes could be a long stretch on tour.

"When leaving Australia, it was quite hard to leave and quite emotional to me but I think we're excited to have the opportunity to play the whole season," Barty said.

"We can't plan too far ahead. As we know, everything can still change so rapidly.

"But we're planning as best as we can and just preparing for some changes.

"We had to be fluid with some of our decisions, but we're looking forward to it."

In first-round action in Miami, Ajla Tomljanovic took 90 minutes to dispatch Anastasia Potapova and set up a meeting with Australian Open champion and world No.2 Naomi Osaka.

World No.77 Tomljanovic overcame Potapova, ranked two places above the Australian, 7-5 6-0.

Venus Williams' last of her three titles at her home tournament was 20 years ago, and her stay in 2021 was brief as she succumbed 6-2 7-6 (10-8) to Zarina Diyas.

The 40-year-old Williams was making her 21st appearance in the tournament, now held 75 minutes from her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.