Ashleigh Barty praises ‘aggressor’ Jennifer Brady after exit while Naomi Osaka survives scare

Ashleigh Barty in action

World No 1 Ashleigh Barty’s 2020 season got off to a stuttering start as she was stunned by Jennifer Brady in straight sets at the Brisbane International, but Naomi Osaka battled through in three sets.

Qualifier Brady came into the match on the back of an upset win over Maria Sharapova and she carried that form over to the second round as she beat Barty 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Barty certainly wasn’t at her best, but she preferred to give credit to her American opponent.

“Jen was in control of the match,” she said. “She was in the centre of the court being the aggressor and I think you have to give credit where credit’s due. Jen is, yes, she came through qualifying, but she’s got ranking that’s kind of well above, I think, what a lot of people give her credit for.

“And I hit with her earlier in the week and we had a great practice session. And yeah, she’s made a few changes to her team as well and I think that’s brought a better standard for her. She’s playing some exceptional tennis, so I certainly can’t take that away from her. She played a great match today and deserved to win.”

Brady will face two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova in the quarter-final after the Czech beat Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 6-2.

Two-time Grand Slam winner and defending Australian Open champion Osaka also didn’t have it all her own way, but she came from a set down to beat Sofia Kenin 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-1.

The third seed’s serve was on form as she served 18 aces and hit 42 winners.

“I was serving very well throughout the entire match, so I’m very happy about that,” she said.

“Since I had that shoulder thing [the injury that forced her to withdraw from the WTA Finals in October] I haven’t really been practicing my serve, so I feel like every serve that I serve should count – and it’s been working out really well.”

Next up is Kiki Bertens after sixth-seeded Dutchwoman beat Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

Second seed and defending champion Karolina Pliskova overcame a second-set blip to beat wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1.

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