Barty wants virus-stranded coach back for Australian Open build-up

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) –


World number one Ashleigh Barty said she hoped to be reunited with her coach for her build-up to the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam after coronavirus restrictions kept them separated for months.

Australia's Barty, a day after withdrawing from her French Open title defence because of Covid-19 concerns and a lack of preparation, said it was "really tough" to be without her coach Craig Tyzzer.

Barty is based in Brisbane but Tyzzer is in hard-hit Melbourne, which is under strict lockdown. Travel across Australia's state borders is also tightly controlled, to prevent outbreaks.

"To not have him up here in Queensland, it's been really tough," said Barty, who hasn't seen Tyzzer since March.

"We tried to go through all the right (travel) applications, tried to do all the right things, but unfortunately we were rejected," she said.

"We'll try again for pre-season and hopefully he can come up here and we can prepare as best we can for the Australian summer," added Barty.

Barty said she spent "many months" considering whether to play the French Open, where she won her maiden Grand Slam title last year.

The fate of Barty's home Grand Slam, the Australian Open in January, is yet to be determined, with the possibility it could be moved out of Melbourne if the city's outbreak has not eased.

Barty announced in late July that she would sit out the US Open, currently underway in New York, while world number two Simona Halep and defending men's champion Rafael Nadal also opted out because of the pandemic.

The French Open is due to start on September 27, with daily crowd numbers reduced to 11,500 from 20,000 and the Roland Garros complex divided into three independent zones to aid social distancing.