The safety of the country is far more important than a tennis match, says world No 1 Ashleigh Barty as she competes in Australian Open

Ashleigh Barty is playing on home soil at the Australian Open (PA Images)
17:31pm, Wed 22 Jan 2020
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Australian tennis super star Ashleigh Barty insists there are more important things than tennis at the moment as her country tries to rebuild following months of devastating bushfires.

Speaking after her straight sets (6-1 6-4) second-round victory over Polona Hercog, the home favourite said: "Honestly, there are so many bigger things going on in Australia right now. 

"I don't think anyone could care less if an Aussie wins it or not.

"First and foremost, it's about the safety and the well-being of Aussies all across the nation, of wildlife, everything."

She finished by saying: "I'd prioritise the safety and kind of rebuilding parts of our nation that have been destroyed over a tennis match any day of the week."

Barty has already shown her charitable support for the bushfire crisis in pledging all her winnings from the Brisbane International to the cause.

The French Open champion has only advanced further than the third round at the tournament once in six attempts and local interest in her success is extremely high.

She secured her place as title favourite when she won the Adelaide International but insists the focus of her game is to put in the best performance she can.

Her next game will be a third-round match against 29th seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan who showed she is not an opponent to take lightly when she won the Hobart International in straight sets against Shuai Zhang, having already conquered Britain's Heather Watson.