Ash Barty loses in Brisbane disaster
ASHLEIGH Barty's long wait to get under way in the Brisbane International was followed by the briefest of appearances.
The Aussie world No.1 was a shock first-up loser against Jen Brady, falling 6-4 7-6 (4) and creating an unfortunate situation where her donation to the Red Cross Fire Appeal will be the smallest possible amount.
Pre-tournament Barty announced she would donate her entire prize money for the week, after being rocked by the Australian bushfires.
Having had a bye in the opening round, Barty will earn about $32,000 for her second-round exit. The winner's prize money is $360,000.
Barty wasn't able to create a single break-point opportunity in the match.
She fell behind 3-0 in the second set tiebreaker before recovering to 4-2 at the change of ends. But after she pulled within a point at 5-4, a poorly hit defensive lob handed the US player two match points. She needed only one.
Brady, a qualifier who has already played five matches this week and upset five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova in the opening round, looked in far better touch then Barty in the early exchanges.
She was almost untouchable when getting her first serve in and managed to take advantage of one of four break-point opportunities.
It's a nightmare for officials in Queensland who were forced to hold back a women's event featuring several of the world's best players while the inaugural men's ATP Cup debuted at Pat Rafter Arena.
Several female players spoke out after being forced to play second fiddle as they were relegated to the Queensland Tennis Centre's outside courts until Thursday - four days after the event's official start.
US Open champion Sloane Stephens labelled it disrespectful.
Dual Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova reckoned it was "not fair". And five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova claimed it made the Brisbane International look like a "second-hand event".
Organisers had hoped all would be forgiven if top seed Barty could make a winning start at Pat Rafter Arena in her second-round clash.
Ipswich product Barty was justifiably the poster girl of the tournament after a remarkable 2019 in which she claimed the world No.1 ranking and became the first Australian woman to win the French Open in 46 years.
But Barty said she wasn't feeling the pressure during her Australian Open preparation, which will also take in the Adelaide International (January 12-18).
"To be honest, it's not the be-all and end-all," she said pre-match of Brisbane International success.
"It's not going to change the way that I prepare. In Adelaide it's not going to change the way that I prepare at the Australian Open. I know that I've done all of my work and all of my training well."
Brady will meet either Petra Kvitova or Liudmila Samsanova in the quarter-finals.
- with AAP