Despite losing her comeback exhibition match, Ash Barty is buzzing as she travels to Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.

Key points:

  • Ash Barty’s last match was a semi-final defeat to Petra Kvitova at the Qatar Open in February 2020
  • Barty is ranked number one in the world, despite her inactivity
  • The Australian Open starts on February 8 in Melbourne

Romania’s world number two Simona Halep downed Barty 3-6 6-1 and then 10-8 in a super tiebreaker at Adelaide’s Memorial Drive on Friday night.

But Australia’s world number one couldn’t wipe a smile from her face despite the loss in her first competitive match in 11 months.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to be back, I genuinely missed it so much,” Barty said.

“I have been getting a little bit impatient the last two or three months, getting ready to play.

“And I’m so excited to get started next week. It was the perfect preparation.

“Obviously, I have trained over the last few months but nothing can replicate what we just did.”


Barty will make her official return at a WTA Tour 500 event at Melbourne Park next week, before the Australian Open starting on February 8.

The Queenslander was unfazed at her renowned all-court skills being patchy against Halep.

“A little bit of execution, of course, that we would like to get right,” she said.

“But I just enjoyed it so much. I think that is the most important thing … I’m excited to get started.

“If it’s not good next week, it might be the week after.

“And if it’s not the next week after, I get another opportunity eventually.

“So just keep chipping away, trying to be the best that I can every day.

“But it’s bloody good to be back.”