BRISBANE, Australia — World No. 1 Ash Barty’s new year has started with an upset loss to American qualifier Jennifer Brady.
The 53rd-ranked Brady, who has no WTA tournament victories, beat French Open champion Barty on her home court at Pat Rafter Arena 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Thursday.
It was a second-round match for both players but Barty had received a first-round bye. Brady had beaten wild-card entry Maria Sharapova in the first round in three sets.
It’s the first time in three matches the 24-year-old Brady has defeated Barty, who was guilty of multiple unforced errors throughout the match.
Brady’s baseline game was crucial to the win, swinging hard throughout with a rusty Barty unable to break the American’s rhythm.
Brady won the opening set in 36 minutes, securing the only break of serve of the match in the seventh game of the set. Barty failed to get close to breaking Brady’s serve throughout and couldn’t force the match into a third set after a 55-minute second set.
Barty has failed to get past the second round in five appearances at the Brisbane International. Brady was playing her fifth match of the season after three qualifiers and Tuesday’s win over Sharapova.
The Australian’s lack of match play could be seen in her 26 unforced errors but she was also keen to pay credit to Brady, who lost just one point on her first serve and didn’t have to face a single break point.
“You can call it rust or you can just call it a bit of execution,” Barty said. “For me it was on those returning games. I had probably had half a dozen second-serve returns where I failed to make it into the court, in that first set in particular. And then Jen grew in confidence. You have to give credit where credit’s due.”
The 23-year-old Australian remains active in the doubles at her hometown event and is in the field for next week’s Adelaide International before starting her Australian Open campaign.
“It’s rare in sport that you get an opportunity every single week and so quickly … that’s one of the beautiful things about tennis is that next week you get a chance in Adelaide to kind of come out there and try and execute that little bit better,” Barty said.
In later matches Thursday, defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka played American Sofia Kenin and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova took on Ludmilla Samsonova.