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Thu 23 Jan 2020 03:08 PM

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World No 1 Barty to make Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships debut

Australian sensation Ashleigh Barty to take part in WTA event from February 17 to 22

World No 1 Barty to make Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships debut

Australia's Ashleigh Barty reacts after a point against Slovenia's Polona Hercog during their women's singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 22, 2020. Image: AFP

World number one Ashleigh Barty is set to make her debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month.

The reigning French Open and WTA Finals champion is top seed at the current Australian Open and fully justified her ranking by cruising into the third round in straight sets on Wednesday with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Polona Hercog in under an hour.

“We are thrilled that Ashleigh Barty will be competing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the first time,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “It has been wonderful to witness her infectious enthusiasm that has won her countless fans around the world, and the manner in which she has conducted herself as a champion has rightly been recognised by all, but especially at home in Australia.”

The 23-year-old former cricket player won her first Grand Slam at Roland Garros in 2019 where she became the first Australian woman to win a Slam since Sam Stosur’s US Open triumph in 2011.

She was also the first Australian to win the WTA Finals since 1976 and did so in her debut year in singles at the event. She became the first Australian woman in 43 years to reach number one and the first Australian woman ever to finish the year at the top of the rankings.

The WTA event, which runs from February 17 to 22, will also feature reigning Grand Slam champions Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu, as well as former two-time Dubai winner Elina Svitolina, 2019 champion Belinda Bencic and recent Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova.

“Already this season we have seen Ashleigh Barty claim a title, as she became the first Australian woman to win a tournament on home soil in nine years with victory in the Adelaide International final,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak.

“Her success underlines that she will be extremely difficult to overcome at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, even though she faces a fantastic field that features two other reigning Grand Slam winners together with many other tournament champions.”