Australia's Ashleigh Barty. Photo: AFP
Australia's Ashleigh Barty. Photo: AFP

Barty beats a path back to Paris

ASH Barty this week starts an eight-event trek towards the French Open when she plays the WTA Indian Wells event in California.

Barty is seeded 16th in the first of three tournaments she is playing in the United States, including Miami and Charleston.

The Queenslander has a first-round bye in Indian Wells and will play either Croatian Donna Vekic or Greek Maria Sakkari in the second round.

After her US swing, Barty will return to Australia for a Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands from April 21-22 at a venue Tennis Australia has yet to announce.

Ash Barty at full stretch. Picture: Michael Klein
Ash Barty at full stretch. Picture: Michael Klein

A victory over the Dutch would see Australia move back into the Fed Cup's top eight countries for the 2019 world group.

After the Fed Cup, Barty plans to play three tournaments on European clay, at Madrid, Rome and Strasbourg, before the French Open starts on May 27.

Barty has not played since she held together Australia's Fed Cup campaign by winning two singles rubbers and teaming with Casey Dellacqua in doubles to see off the Ukraine last month in Canberra.

Nick Kyrgios, Matt Ebden and wildcard Alex de Minaur are the Australian men in the main draw at Indian Wells, where defending champion Roger Federer will lose his No. 1 ranking to a sidelined Rafael Nadal if the Swiss star cannot make the semi-finals.

After a Fed Cup tie and two exhibitions, Serena Williams plays her first tournament in Indian Wells since becoming a mother, meeting Zarina Diyas, of Kazakhstan.

Serena Williams at the Madison Squar Garden Tie Break Tens. Photo: AFP
Serena Williams at the Madison Squar Garden Tie Break Tens. Photo: AFP

Sam Stosur plays Lauren Davis, the American known to Australian tennis watchers from her 15-13 loss in the third set to eventual runner-up Simona Halep at the Australian Open this year.

Australia's 26th seed Daria Gavrilova has a first-round bye.

Stosur has posted only one main-draw win in three tournaments since the Australian summer, having played through qualifying in Dubai before a first-round loss to world No. 28 Anett Kontaveit.

Bernard Tomic has targeted a Challenger tournament in Lille, France, from March 19, followed by a second Challenger in Alicante, Spain, two weeks later.