Barty to spend 2021 season away from home to avoid quarantines
World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty said she will probably not return home to Australia until after the 2021 season because of quarantine requirements in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking after she cruised into the Miami Open's last 16 with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Jelena Ostapenko, Barty said the time needed to quarantine on either end of a journey to Australia would be too much of a challenge.
"Obviously, with the quarantine laws in Australia, we do our two weeks' quarantine in a hotel, and there is actually not a lot of space in the season to be able to do that just to get home for the two weeks," said Barty.
"So at this stage we're planning to be away until after the US Open and potentially right to the end of season."
While Barty is no stranger to long periods away from home, she admitted settling into a stretch that could last until November if the entire season goes ahead, is taking some getting used to.
"Without a doubt, it was something that was new to me, new to try and wrap my head around and comprehend where we're going to be away for such an extended period," said the 24-year-old, who is the defending Miami Open champion as last year's event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
"Of course there were tears the days leading up. There were tears when I did finally leave, and then when we left. Then we were delayed and had to leave again. It was all kind of happening."
Up next for top seed Barty in Miami will be a clash with Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-2 in a battle of former world No. 1s.
In the men's draw, Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas - ranked fifth in the world but seeded second behind world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev - was untroubled in a 6-1, 6-4 over Bosnian lucky loser Damir Dzumhur.
Tsitsipas, coming off a runner-up finish at Acapulco last week, hit 10 of his 18 winners off his forehand and committed only nine unforced errors.
The three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist next faces Japanese 28th seed Kei Nishikori, who outlasted Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-4.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, world No. 3 Rafael Nadal and No. 4 Dominic Thiem as well as Roger Federer and Andy Murray are missing from this ATP 1000 event. - AFP, REUTERS