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The WTA has announced World No.1 Ash Barty has qualified for the Finals event in Mexico, despite confusion remaining over the Australian's participation.
Following the US Open, the WTA announced its season-ending finals event will be held in Mexico this year instead of China in a move that will have ramifications for the world's top female players including Barty.
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This sparked Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer to declare the timing and location of the event 'ridiculous', sparking huge doubt over the World No.1's involvement in the event.
The event was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning Barty is still the reigning champion having won the event in 2019.
Barty won her biggest pay cheque to date when she claimed $6.4 million for winning the event in 2019.
However, the official recognition that the event will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, occurred this week and with this meant the confirmation Barty had qualified.
And in the press release, Barty was quoted: "Lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy in Shenzhen in 2019 is one of the best moments of my career."
“It’s a great honour to be among the Top 8 players in the world and be the first to qualify for the 2021 WTA Finals.”
While the WTA expect the World No.1 to make an appearance at the lucrative event, most in the tennis community are unsure if Barty will actually compete having been on the road since before Wimbledon.
Ash Barty silent over WTA Finals participation
Barty has won a tour leading five titles in 2021, including the Yarra Valley Classic, defending her title at the Miami Open, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Wimbledon and the Western & Southern Open.
The World No.1 packed her bags and left her home after the Aus Open knowing she would't be able to return due to Australia's strict quarantine rules.
Her achievements on the road came into the spotlight after her loss to Shelby Rogers at the US Open.
The American praised the Australian for her quality on Tour, despite not returning home to see family and friends for months.
And tennis reporter Courtney Walsh, on the The First Serve SEN Radio show, is another that does not believe Barty will travel to Mexico after so many months away from home.
Walsh recently wrote an article about the difficulty some Australian athletes are facing when attempting to return home and this could persuade Barty's decision.
"John Millman, he is defending his title in Kazakhstan this week, he doesn't know when he'll be back. He says it is so tricky at the moment," Walsh said on the podcast.
"Look, I do think the end-of-season championships are a bridge too far," Walsh added.
"Aryna Sabalenka being beaten in the semi-final at the US Open...it is almost impossible for her [Barty] to be dislodged as World No.1 and I think that is a big factor in considering whether it is worth going to Mexico."
If Barty was to play in the WTA Finals, she would return to Australia in late November.
She would then have to quarantine after more than six months on the road before beginning preparations for next year's Australian Open.
"That is clearly her priority now, to try and win an Australian Open," Walsh finished.
Barty has remained silent on whether she will participate in the WTA Finals event.
Last week, Tyzzer said the move to Mexico created a 'frightening' spectacle.
"We only just found out it's in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they're using pressure-less balls," Tyzzer told AAP.
"Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It's a ball that if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn't bounce.
"I mean, it's not the greatest advertisement for the best girls in the world to be playing something they've never done before.
"In conditions they've never played, in a country they don't play and at altitude, I just feel it's ridiculous.
"As a spectacle, it's just frightening."
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