Barty leads women’s charge in AO main draw
Top-ranked Australian Ash Barty is the 15th seed in the Australian Open main draw, where fellow Aussie Destanee Aiava has drawn 17th seed Madison Keys.
Given her rich vein of form and much-deserved first-time top-16 seeding, Ash Barty looks perhaps the best-placed of the 20-strong Australian contingent to go deep in the main draws at Melbourne Park.
The world No.15 launches her title quest against Thai Luksika Kumkhum, with Barty’s first big test likely to come in the fourth round against Danish defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
With victories over three Grand Slam champions already this summer, including world No.1 Simona Halep on Wednesday in Sydney, Barty says she fears no one and looms as Australia’s best hope in more than a decade to break Australia’s 41-year women’s title drought.
But the 22-year-old insists her immediate focus is on winning this week’s Sydney International to complete the perfect Open build-up.
“I’ll worry about that (the Open) come Sunday or Monday, whenever we’re finished here,” Barty said after storming into the semifinals on Thursday with a straight-sets defeat of world No.12 Elise Mertens.
Australian No.2 Daria Gavrilova starts her Open campaign against Slovenian Tamara Zidansek while Ajla Tomljanovic faces Britain’s Sydney-born 2016 semifinalist Johanna Konta.
Veteran Samantha Stosur meets Ukraine’s in-form teenage talent Dayana Yastremska first-up.
Five Australian women have received main-draw wildcards, including Australian Open Play-off winner Kimberly Birrell, who opens against a qualifier.
Destanee Aiava has drawn perhaps the toughest first-round opponent among the Australian women; she comes up against 17th seed Madison Keys, a US Open finalist in 2017.
Ellen Perez and Priscilla Hon have both landed in Barty’s immediate section; Perez could face Barty in the second round if she gets past China’s Yafan Wang, while Hon takes on a qualifier for a shot at either 22nd seed Jelena Ostapenko or Greece’s Maria Sakkari.
Zoe Hives takes on American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands.