ASHLEIGH Barty has snuck into the field for the Elite Trophy in China on the back of a superb season on the WTA Tour - and an injury to a rival.
Barty began 2017 ranked world No. 271 after her return to the tour last season following a 20-month sabbatical and stint playing cricket in the Women's Big Bash League with Brisbane Heat.
The 21-year-old's breakout season has included a maiden WTA singles title in Kuala Lumpur and further finals in Birmingham and Wuhan.
She toppled three world top 10 players - including reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko - on her way to the Wuhan final.
Later this week she will team up with fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua as one of the world's top eight doubles teams at the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore.
And now she will head to the Chinese city of Zhuhai for the event beginning next week, which features players ranked nine to 19 in the WTA singles rankings.
Barty finished the season ranked 20th, however Britain's Johanna Konta has pulled out of any tournaments for the rest of the season after suffering a foot injury. This means she will move up one spot in the rankings, enough to qualify her for the event.
Also playing there will be US Open champion Sloane Stephens and one-time Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber.
It comes after Barty leapfrogged Daria Gavrilova earlier this month to become the Australian No.1.
The event in Zhuhai will take place just before the end of the season, but she will return in 2018 aiming for a tilt at the Australian Open. Barty will begin that effort at the Brisbane International, having already been confirmed as one of that event's star attractions.
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