World number one Ashleigh Barty faces a tricky dilemma after qualifying for the WTA Finals in November.
Barty’s place at the season-ending event was confirmed earlier this week. The defending champion secured qualification alongside world number two Aryna Sabalenka and French Open winner Barbora Krejčíková.
After a successful season, which included victories at the Melbourne Open, Miami Open, Stuttgart Open, Cincinnati Open and Wimbledon, Barty seemed delighted to have booked her place at the WTA Finals.
"Lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy in Shenzhen in 2019 is one of the best moments of my career," she said. "It’s a great honor to be among the top eight players in the world and be the first to qualify for the 2021 WTA Finals."
But all is not as it seems. There is still doubt over whether Barty will compete at the WTA Finals, which has been moved from Shenzhen in China to Guadalajara in Mexico as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why might Ashleigh Barty withdraw from the WTA Finals?
Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer has cast doubt on the star’s participation at the WTA Finals. He revealed the Australian was planning on returning home after Indian Wells next month, a trip which would require two weeks of quarantine upon arrival.
If Barty was to leave again to compete at the WTA Finals in Mexico, she would then have to endure another two weeks on her return to her home country, before immediately starting preparations for the Australian Open in January.
"She needs to get home, she's a super homebody," Tyzzer told AAP. "Indian Wells is still on the radar but she just needs a rest. She was physically and mentally exhausted.
"So I told her to just get away and have a holiday and just refresh everything.
"We'll probably make a decision at the end of the week about what she's going to do depending on where she's at.
"But it certainly isn't easy for us to get there and to play that event in Mexico and then to come back and have to do two [more] weeks [in quarantine] and then your summer is sort of ruined as well.
"It's a decision we'll have to sit and mull over quite a bit."
Tyzzer also slammed the decision to hold the prestigious season finale in Guadalajara.
"We only just found out it's in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they're using pressure-less balls," he said.
"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."
Barty may be further encouraged to skip the WTA Finals with her status as world number one all but secure, a result of her massive lead in the rankings.
What are the WTA Finals?
The WTA Finals pit the world’s best women’s tennis players against each other. The eight top-ranked players at the end of the season are sorted into two groups of four, and play each other in a round-robin format.
The winners and runners-up of each group advance to the semifinals, before the two finalists battle it out for the ultimate crown.
Barty defeated Elina Svitolina in the final of the 2019 WTA Finals, taking home $4.42 million (£30.7 million) in prize money. Last year’s tournament was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
This year’s competition is scheduled to run from November 8th to 15th.News Now - Sport News