Barty ‘eager as ever’ in Melbourne return | Ralph Lauren

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Ash Barty says she’s still feeling the buzz despite the unique build-up to her home grand slam.

Australia’s world No.1 enjoyed a return to the Melbourne Park courts on Sunday, winning her doubles match alongside American Jennifer Brady, who was among those players stuck in hard lockdown after a COVID-19-positive test on her flight to Australia.

Brisbane-based Barty had played in Adelaide on Friday and enjoyed more freedom in her preparation, although went without the in-person services of her coach Craig Tyzzer for months last year due to state border closures.

Barty has a first-round bye and faces Romanian Anna Bogdan on Tuesday in the Yarra Valley Classic before the Australian Open from February 8.

Fans are yet to fill the stands but Barty, who reached the final four in Melbourne as top seed last year, can still feel the hype building.

“It’s excitement more than anything; I feel as excited and eager as I’ve ever been to get out here and drawing on the memories of last year,” she said.

“It’s exciting for all of tennis to be back and getting a few matches hopefully under my belt before AO starts would be good.

“It’s an adjustment, but come the Australian Open the crowds will be here and there’s going to be a really nice vibe.”

Barty played world No.2 Simona Halep in Adelaide on Friday to end an 11-month tour hiatus, the 24-year-old choosing not to compete during the pandemic.

“There’s been an adjustment from everyone … I’ve done all the work, am well prepared but don’t feel like I’m more a favourite than anyone else,” she said of her expectations.

“(They are) not my own (expectation to reach a certain stage) maybe from you guys, but that’s on you, that’s not on me.”


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