Ash Barty is in extreme doubt for the rescheduled 2021 WTA Finals, with her trusted coach Craig Tyzzer branding the location, timing and conditions for the prestigious event as “ridiculous”.
With China off the table during the global pandemic, this year’s elite eight-woman season-ending championships will be played in Guadalajara, Mexico, before returning to Shenzhen in 2022.
Barty famously banked the richest cheque in men’s or women’s tennis history – $A6 million – for winning the WTA Finals two years ago in Shenzhen, in the same month that the first coronavirus case was discovered in Wuhan.
It now seems most unlikely the world No.1 will be back to defend her crown, after last year’s finals were cancelled.
Tyzzer said Barty would seriously compromise her Australian Open preparations if she contested the 2021 edition ending on November 15 before spending two weeks in quarantine at home back in Australia. ON top of that, the prospect of competing at altitude was hardly enticing.
“We only just found out it’s in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they’re using pressure-less balls,” Tyzzer 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 is enjoying a well-earned holiday in Britain, where the keen golfer and four marker walked the fairways at the weekend watching fellow Queenslander Adam Scott at the European PGA Championship.
The Wimbledon champion is committed to returning to Australia after next month’s Indian Wells 1000 series event in California. The possibility of two fortnight blocks of quarantine almost certainly rules her out of the WTA Finals.
“She needs to get home, she’s a super homebody,” Tyzzer said.
“Indian Wells is still on the radar but she just needs a rest. She was physically and mentally exhausted.
“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 said staging the WTA Finals at such an unfamiliar venue was puzzling and had diminished the lustre of the multimillion-dollar season finale.
“We were originally told it was Hong Kong and then we were told it was Prague and all of a sudden we hear it’s in Mexico,” he said.
“It’s almost like it’s a last-gasp. It doesn’t strike me as they’re really trying to promote the best girls in the world for the top eight as a showcase, to put it where it’s at.”
Regardless of whether Barty plays the WTA Finals, the 25-year-old has such a massive rankings lead that her year-end position as world No.1 is all but secure.