MELBOURNE: World number one Ash Barty, who exited the Australian Open with a quarter-final defeat, has taken a wild card to defend her title at the WTA 500 event in Adelaide next week, organisers said on Friday.
The 24-year-old Australian will be the top seed at the US$535,530 event, scheduled to be held from Feb. 22-27, at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in South Australia.
"I am looking forward to coming back to Adelaide and having the opportunity to defend my title," Barty said in a statement.
"I feel grateful to get another week playing in front of Australian fans."
Barty won the Yarra Valley Classic warmuup event for the Australian Open at the beginning of February on her return to competitive tennis after a gap of 11 months after opting to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic for most of 2020.
The 2019 French Open champion will be joined in Adelaide by other Grand Slam winners like last year's Roland Garros winner Iga Swiatek and former U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu.
Barty, who lost to Czech Karolina Muchova on Tuesday at Melbourne Park during the year's first Grand Slam, is then expected to head to the Middle East next month to play WTA events in Doha and Dubai.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Kim Coghill)