World No 1 Ash Barty is eyeing the BNP Paribas Open, set for 4-17 October at Indian Wells, but her coach Craig Tyzzer is critical of the WTA’s decision to hold the year-end Finals in Guadalajara, casting doubts on whether the Aussie will defend the title she won in 2019.
We only just found out it's in Mexico at 1500 metres [above sea level] and they're using pressure-less balls... 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. Craig Tyzzer
Barty still plans to headline the entry list at Indian Wells, which currently includes World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka, Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina, former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova
Three teenagers will be making their debuts at Indian Wells this year, where 17-year-old Coco Gauff and 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz will join 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, last week’s US Open finalist, in the draw.
The WTA 1000 tournament returns to the Southern California desert for the first time since 2019 after it was delayed last year and then again in March.
After winning 5 titles this year, including Wimbledon, Barty has been away from home in Australia since mid March.
She did not travel last year because of the pandemic, having famously banked the richest cheque in men’s or women’s tennis history of $4.42 million by winning the WTA Finals two years ago in Shenzhen, during the same month that the first COVID-19 case was discovered in Wuhan.
Darren Walton reports in The Western Australian that Barty is now 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’.
Tyzzer is quoted as saying Barty will be seriously compromising her Australian Open preparations if she contests the 2021 WTA Finals, which ends on 15 November, before spending two weeks in quarantine at home back in Australia, while the prospect of competing at altitude is also 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 told AAP. “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 currently enjoying a well-earned holiday in the UK, 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 Indian Wells where she must endure two fortnight blocks of quarantine, which almost certainly rules her out of the WTA Finals.
“She needs to get home, she’s a super homebody,” Tyzzer adds in the report. “Indian Wells is still on the radar but she just needs a rest.
“She was physically and mentally exhausted. So 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.”
Walton writes that Tyzzer said staging the WTA Finals at such an unfamiliar venue was puzzling and had diminished the lustre of the multi-million 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.