Ash Barty Adelaide, Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka return to action in Melbourne


Ashley Barty will return to action for the first time in four months in Adelaide in January when Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal will begin their Australian Open build-up in Melbourne, officials said on Friday.

Barty has not played since losing in the third round of the US Open in September, but even after the Australian season he finished as the world number one in 2021, winning five titles.

The ruling Wimbledon champion Adelaide has international field headlines that honor nine of the top 10 women in the world, including Iga Svitek, who will defend her title.

Former world number one Garbine Muguruza, Carolina Pliskova and Victoria Azarenka are also involved in the January 2-9 event with world number two Arya Sabalenka.

The only top 10 player missing in Adelaide would be seventh-ranked Estonian Annette Contaweit.

Defending Australian Open champion Osaka, who has slipped to 13th in the world, will play in the Melbourne Summer Set event on January 3-9, which will feature a joint women’s and men’s tournament.

She will be joined by US Open champion Emma Raduka, whose form has waned since her shocking victory at Flushing Meadows.

Others on the Melbourne Bill include Simona Halep, Alice Mertens and Anastasia Pavluchenkova, the top 11 players.

The great U.S. Serena Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam titles – one short of the all-time record set by Margaret Court – has dropped out of the Australian Summer, and says she has “where to stay physically. Need “is not there.

Most of the leading men, including nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, Daniel Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, are set to start the 2022 ATP Cup in Sydney from 1 January.

But Spanish superstar Nadal chose to leave him and instead prepare a low key in a tournament featuring former world number three Grigor Dimitrov in Melbourne.

Nadal, competing with Djokovic as the first person to reach 21 Grand Slam titles, has barely played since losing in the semifinals of the French Open.

He plans to return to tennis at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition later this month before traveling to Australia, where all players are expected to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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