Tag: Brisbane International

Australian Open draw treats Barty well while fans eye Kyrgios-Nadal fourth-round blockbuster

Melbourne 3000

Aussie world number one Ash Barty has enjoyed the benefits of her stature in the game, with a relatively easy draw for the Australian Open.

Key points:

  • Ash Barty’s first match is against Lesia Tsurenko, who knocked Barty out of the Brisbane International in 2018
  • Nick Kyrgios could meet men’s world number one Rafael Nadal in the fourth round
  • Defending champion Naomi Osaka could play both Williams sisters before the semi-finals

While top-seeded Australian male Nick Kyrgios could face world number one Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, Barty kicks off against 120th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

While there is a significant gap in the rankings, Tsurenko won the most recent match-up between them, knocking Barty out of the round of 16 at the 2018 Brisbane International.

The likely toughest match-up in Barty’s part of the draw is American 18th-seed Alison Riske or former top-10 German Julia Goerges, both of whom she could face in the fourth round.

Video: Ash Barty answers a call from a journalist's phone during Adelaide International press conference

(ABC News)

Last year’s runner-up, Petra Kvitova, and 10th-seed Madison Keys are possible quarter-final opponents for Barty.

Fellow Australian Sam Stosur is in the same section of the draw as defending champion Naomi Osaka and will start off against a qualifier, ahead of a possible second round against 24th seed and 2017 US Open champ Sloane Stephens.

Meanwhile, the best Aussie hope on the men’s side, 24-year-old Kyrgios, was placed in the same eighth of the draw as Nadal, which sets up a potential blockbuster clash in the round of 16.


Kyrgios and Nadal split wins in their two matches last year. (AP: John Minchillo, file photo)

To reach the mouth-watering match-up, Kyrgios will have to get through Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the first round. In the third round he could face fellow rising star Karen Khachanov, against whom he had a major meltdown last year.

If he does progress to face Nadal, it would be the eighth meeting of the pair, with the Spaniard holding a slight 4-3 edge in the head-to-head record.

They played twice last year, with Nadal winning a four-set thriller at Wimbledon after Kyrgios had won a tight three-setter on his way to the Acapulco title.

Whoever makes it through could be in line to play fifth-seed Dominic Thiem in the last eight.

Kyrgios is seeded 23rd at this year’s tournament after the withdrawal of 21st-ranked Aussie Alex de Minaur, as well as Lucas Pouille (ranked 23rd) and Kei Nishikori (ranked 17).

Defending men’s champion and world number two Novak Djokovic has a tough first round against 37th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff, building towards a possible quarter-final clash with last year’s surprise packet and now sixth seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas.


Naomi Osaka won her second major at Melbourne Park last year. (AP: Mark Schiefelbein)

Meanwhile, defending women’s champion Osaka could play both Williams sisters before the semi-finals.

Osaka’s idol and the woman she beat to claim her first major crown at the 2018 US Open, Serena, is her projected quarter-final opponent, with elder sister Venus a possible third-round match-up.

But only if 39-year-old Venus can get by 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the first round, in a clash between the oldest and the youngest players in the draw.

It is also a rematch of the first round of last year’s Wimbledon Championships, when Gauff burst into the scene by upsetting the seven-time major winner to kick off her shock run to the fourth round.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

‘Girls to the side’ as men’s ATP Cup takes priority in Brisbane


American grand slam winner Sloane Stephens says the ATP Cup and Brisbane International organisers have shown women’s players a lack of respect, with the schedule pushing the “girls to the side” in favour of men’s players.

Key points:

  • The women’s Brisbane International has been played on the side courts as the men’s ATP Cup took priority over the main arena in Brisbane
  • Grand slam winners Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova are among those who have felt sidelined
  • The policies mean hometown favourite Ash Barty will have a packed schedule to start her 2020

The Brisbane International women’s tournament has been run concurrently at the Queensland Tennis Centre this year with the inaugural men’s ATP Cup, which was given priority status on the main arena in Brisbane.

That meant some of the biggest names in women’s tennis were forced to start the year on outside courts.

Defending Australian Open champion and world number three Naomi Osaka began her season in the relative obscurity of Brisbane’s Stadium Court on Tuesday, claiming a hard-fought three-set win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Even hometown favourite and women’s world number one Ash Barty has been forced to wait for access to the main stage.

Barty will not play her first match of the Australian summer until Thursday as the ATP Cup group stages wrap up in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The late start means the 23-year-old will start her season with what could be a gruelling four matches in four days if she reaches Sunday’s final, all ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on January 20.


Ash Barty is starting her Brisbane International campaign late. (AP: Mark Schiefelbein)

And Stephens said it showed a lack of respect.

“When you’re a number one player in the world who is going to play on the side court, I don’t think that that’s great,” the 2017 US Open champion said after an opening-round loss to Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova.

“I think it’s kind of a respect thing. We just weren’t in the conversation to even be considered.

“It was what the ATP wanted, they got what they wanted, girls to the side, that’s kind of how it always is.

“I think it’s unfortunate, but we play and we do what we do and hopefully next year there will be some adjustments.”

Former world number one Maria Sharapova, who lost to American qualifier Jennifer Brady on Tuesday night, said the Brisbane International had the feel of “second-hand event”.

“You definitely recognise it and notice it [starting on outside courts], it feels like a little bit of a second-hand event,” she said.

“I think on Thursday the girls go back on centre court, but it’s definitely a bit of a strange strategic move.

“I think there’s a lot of girls that are deserving of that centre-court spot in this draw, I think there are six out of [the world’s] top-10 players [in Brisbane].”


Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka began her season away from the main court. (AAP: Albert Perez)

Dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also was not impressed after claiming a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 first-round win over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the Stadium Court on Tuesday night.

“I just feel that it’s kind of weird that the ATP Cup pushed us to the outside courts,” the world number seven said.

“I just don’t feel it’s pretty fair. I just feel a bit sad for the women’s field.”

Australian veteran Samantha Stosur, who earlier in the week said it was a “bit rough” on female players and fans to be relegated to the outside courts, will play her second-round fixture on Wednesday against American eighth seed Madison Keys.

Australian ATP Cup team captain Lleyton Hewitt said the men had also been affected by the concurrent tournaments.

“There’s times this week though where we certainly haven’t been able to get the practice times that we want,” he said.

“I know there’s meant to be certain allocation of courts for men, the men’s teams as well, so I think it works both ways.”


Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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