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Barty pulls out of WTA Finals to focus on Australian Open preparations

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Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 10, 2021 Australia's Ashleigh Barty reacts during her final match against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

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Oct 23 (Reuters) - World number one Ash Barty will not defend her WTA Finals title in Mexico next month after the Wimbledon champion decided to bring an early end to her 2021 season.

Barty won the season-ending tournament when it was last held in Shenzhen in November 2019 but the Australian will not travel to Guadalajara to participate in this year's event running Nov. 10-17.

"I wanted to let everyone know that I won't be competing in any further tournaments in 2021, including the WTA Finals in Mexico," Barty said in a statement. "It was a difficult decision but I need to prioritise my body and my recovery from our 2021 season and focus on having the strongest preseason for the Australian summer."

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Barty returned to Australia in September after a third-round exit from the U.S. Open, effectively ending a season during which she won five titles including Wimbledon. She had previously been omitted from the Australia team that will play in next month's Billie Jean King Cup finals in Prague.

The 25-year-old will now focus on the build-up to January's Australian Open, where she will look to improve on her run to the quarter-finals in 2021.

"With the ongoing challenges of travelling back to Queensland and quarantine requirements, I am not willing to compromise my preparation for January," she said. "My focus is now on the Australian summer and doing everything I can to win the Australian Open. I can't wait to play at home again."

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Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Will Dunham

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