Osaka hunting Barty’s No.1 ranking
Reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka is determined to usurp Australia's Ash Barty on top of the WTA rankings.
Naomi Osaka has her sights on Ash Barty’s No.1 ranking after rediscovering her hunger following a topsy-turvy 2019 season that began with an Australian Open title.
The Japanese talent soared to top spot last January thanks to her US and Australian Open double.
But she hit a wall soon after, cycling through two coaches and flopping in the final three majors before finding late form to finish the year at No.3 in the world.
She will join a stellar field headed by local hope Barty at the Brisbane International from 6 January and announced her arrival in typical cool style by taking a helicopter ride over the city with Australian player Kimberly Birrell on Thursday.
The 22-year-old was one of four different women’s major winners in 2019 – a season that Barty eventually owned thanks to her consistency across all surfaces.
Osaka wants to take a stranglehold on the tour though and said countering Barty’s all-court craft was vital to that.
“That’s the mentality going into this year,” she said of her intention to jump clear of a crowded pack.
“Last year I had to figure a lot of stuff out and a lot of people could see that and towards the end of the year is when things started clicking for me.
“I love Australia … so I’m excited to start here.”
She said French Open champion Barty would prove a handful this year.
“She has a lot of variety, her serve’s really pin point and she has the best slice on tour,” Osaka said.