Australian Ash Barty has told the ABC TV network in Australia she is not worried by the challenge of playing at the first Open of the year after almost 12 months away from the WTA Tour.

Her last appearance was at the Qatar Open last February, where she lost in the semi-finals to Petra Kvitova.

Barty said despite not playing through much of 2020 she feels she has done all the work to be ready for event, which starts on February 8.

“I feel like we’ve ticked the boxes and I’m feeling like every single year we continue to develop my game and it’s better and better,” she said.

“Obviously I haven’t played competition tennis for a year now so it’s going to be a challenge but we also know that hopefully again it will be a long season and we don’t have to panic if we don’t get the perfect start.

Sonia Kenin beats Ashleigh Barty in last year’s Australian Open semi-final. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

“We’ll just try and go out there and do the best that we can and whatever happens will happen.”

Barty will be top seed at the Open but she said she did not feel any pressure.

“They (the media questioning her ranking) can think whatever they like. If they expect me to win the tournament, then that’s their expectations,” she said.

“But mine certainly aren’t that for now.

Ash Barty in action at the 2020 Australia Open. Photo: Andy Cheung/ArcK Images/arckimages.com/UK Tennis Magazine/International Sports Fotos)

“It’s about doing the right things right from the start, from the very first match, and whether I win the match or not, if I go through the right processes and do things the way we’ve always done it, I’ll sleep well at night regardless of the results.

“That’s a really important part of our make-up with our whole team. Everyone plays a role and we try and do a job to the best of our ability on that given day.

“So there’s no stresses, no concerns for me. I just try and focus on what I can well, what I know to do and I know it’s going to be a little bit rusty and that’s okay.

“But we’ll go out there and give it a crack and see how we go.”

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