DOHA, Qatar - World No.1 Ashleigh Barty is set to make her tournament debut at the Qatar Total Open after resting her mind and body after a successful Australian summer campaign.
Playing as the reigning No.1 on home soil for the first time in her career, Barty kicked off her 2020 season with a 9-2 record, winning her first title on home soil at the Adelaide International and making her first Australian Open semifinal, where she lost to eventual champion Sofia Kenin. Barty took 10 days of rest after Melbourne before she resumed training.
"I feel good," Barty told reporters at All Access Hour in Doha. "I needed to have an extra few days off just to let my body settle. We had a couple little niggles going on after the Australian Open.
"I would have loved to have been able to play last week [in Dubai]. I've never played either of these tournaments, so it's kind of a new thing for me.
"But it was nice to spend some time at home with my family. Parts of my family were with me at the Australian Open and my other sister wasn't, so it was nice to catch up with my niece and nephew at home who had been watching and enjoyed that month with me.
"And then to get into a bit of training again and then to come here and experience something new for the first time, it's rare that we kind of get that. We play the same tournaments and the same kind of calendar throughout the year, so it's nice to experience something new, something fresh and really exciting."
Barty was initially entered in Dubai, but withdrew ahead of the tournament. Doha will be her first event since the Australian Open.
"In a perfect world it probably would have been just under a week [off] and then having close to a full week leading up to Dubai, but I had to give myself that extra time just to make sure that it didn't derail the rest of my season.
"So sometimes you have to make those kind of decisions to make sure that in the long-term you are looking after yourself. So it was nice to have those 10 days. I feel really good now. It's beautiful conditions here and I really like it."
Reflecting on her pressure-packed month of January, Barty said her success at the inaugural tournament in Adelaide, where she was presented the trophy by an Aboriginal elder, was the highlight.
"We only get to play in Australia for that month of the year, so it was really nice that I was able to make the most of that," Barty said. "Particularly I think with the history of the tournament in Adelaide, in the past, it's incredible. And to put my name on that brand new trophy was unbelievable. It's something that's very close to my heart as well.
"Then to have a very, very successful Australian Open was exciting. Obviously it was disappointing not to have been there on the final Saturday, but a semifinal of a Slam doesn't happen every single week.
"So I think all-in-all, though there was disappointment there was positivity. It was a fantastic month."
The top seed in Doha, Barty has a bye into the second round and will face Laura Siegemund.