World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty admits she will have to be patient ahead of her first competitive match since the US Open in September.
The Australian has not played since losing in the third round at Flushing Meadows, returning home due to the pandemic with an eye on 2022.
Barty begins her season at the Adelaide International this week as the 25-year-old builds up to her attempt to win a first Australian Open title later this month.
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"I love to try to get better each and every day,” Barty said.
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"I'm excited now to try and bring it all together as best as I can and understand in the next couple of weeks I'll have to be patient with myself.
Ashleigh Barty lifts the Wimbledon title
Image credit: Getty Images
"It has been a while since I've played a competitive match, but I feel good, I feel ready."
The 25-year-old won Wimbledon last year, adding to her French Open title in 2019, but ahead of her pursuit of a third Grand Slam in Melbourne, Barty is wary that the depth in the women’s game is getting stronger.
"There are fresh challengers every year, regardless of who is what spot on the ranking list," said Barty, who received a first-round bye in Adelaide.
"Girls really stepped up, were able to play really consistent seasons, which is exciting to see for the women's game.
"It feels like it's just good competition. Genuinely there is really good depth and you have to bring your best time and time again to be able to compete with everyone and give yourself a chance to win the big titles."
Barty won the most WTA titles (five) of any player in 2021, and she has now been No. 1 for 102 weeks.
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