Ashleigh Barty looks to kickstart season in Adelaide

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA (AFP) – Ashleigh Barty (pic below) plans to use next week’s ATP-WTA Adelaide International to put the final polish on her Australian Open preparations after a shock defeat in Brisbane.

The world number one headlines the new event starting tonight, part of a revised calendar in the run-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year which begins on January 20.

The Australian star will be desperate for court time after crashing at the first hurdle this week to American qualifier Jennifer Brady at the Brisbane International.

The men’s draw in Adelaide is spearheaded by Australian Alex De Minaur after world number two Novak Djokovic pulled out yesterday as he guides Serbia at the ATP Cup in Sydney, where they have made the final.

Barty denied beginning the season as the top-ranked player in front of her home fans had put extra pressure on. “I’m just trying to do the best that I can and obviously… try and play my best tennis,” Barty, who is assured of keeping the top ranking through to the end of the Australian Open, said after her Brisbane exit on Thursday.

She will begin in the second round at Adelaide, joining second seed Simona Halep with a bye.

Former world number one Halep, a finalist at Wimbledon last year, will be making her 2020 start with Adelaide-born coach Darren Cahill back in charge after taking a year off.

Top 10 players Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens are also in the field, along with world number eight Belinda Bencic who was given a wildcard entry when Venus Williams withdrew injured.

Barty had said she expected to quickly pick up the pieces of her game after her Brisbane setback.