Isolated Aussie Ash Barty will break out of her geographical shell with a flight to Miami for the COVID-edition Masters 1000 which begins next week.
The world No. 1 who has retained her ranking position thanks to emergency ranking calculations in force during the pandemic, has not dared to venture overseas for more than a year.
Her withdrawal from March events in the Gulf (Doha, Dubai) did not bode well, but the Queenslander is reportedly ready to take the plunge and return to Tour tennis.
Barty’s Australian Open in February was an anti-climax, with her quarter-final exit followed by an opening-round loss in Adelaide, the event she won a year ago.
She also dealt with a leg injury during the disappointing Aussie tennis summer.
Holder Barty will have plenty to prove in Miami, at the scaled-down Masters due to be played in a stadium parking lot with a handful (750 spectators) allowed in per day.
Many of the match courts will, though, be off-limits due to COVID restrictions and ticket prices for punters have been raised by a factor of two at the event being played in a mask-free state where restrictions are nonexistent.
Barty told the Nine Network that she’s ready to make the trip for what will be a player life inside the protected tournament-hotel bubble.
“You weigh up the risk for your reward, and what you’re willing to accept..
“I feel like now we are in a comfortable position, knowing that the tour is doing the right things and we are going to be in a safe environment.”
Due to Australia’s strict quarantine laws, Barty will be unlikely to return home and will have to head into the European clay season which ends with Roland Garros starting in late May.
But then the grass season will be fast approaching, further lengthening the trip.