Ashleigh Barty Australian Open 2022

Naomi Osaka ‘can cause Ash Barty problems’ should they meet at Australian Open, predicts WTA star

Johanna Konta believes Ash Barty draws the highest level from her opponents but feels Naomi Osaka is capable of “presenting some challenges” for Barty to deal with.

Both current World number one Barty and defending Australian Open champion Osaka were drawn in the same quarter of the Australian Open and could face each other in the fourth round should they both win their next matches.

In the third round, Australian Barty will play 30th seed Camila Giorgi whilst Osaka will take on American youngster Amanda Anisimova.

The duo have encountered each other just three times on the WTA Tour, with Osaka emerging the victor twice and Barty beating the Japanese star just once. Osaka has also won four Grand Slam titles compared to Barty’s two.

Additionally, the ‘Happy Slam’ is one of Barty’s first tournaments since the US Open when she decided to take a four month hiatus. As a result of this break, she also missed the prestigious WTA Finals.

After six months of travelling across the world at the start of 2021, Barty needed time to decompress and properly prepare for the Australian Open as she bids to win a maiden home Slam. Barty was also concerned about the strict Covid-19 regulations that might be put in place.

Speaking on the Eurosport Cube, Johanna Konta said “without stating the obvious, there is her [Barty’s] variety and ability to mix things up but what impresses me the most is her consistency – not just not missing but her level of focus and application every point.

“She very rarely has dips, matches have ebbs and flows but her matches are so consistent and so level which asks her opponent to play at that high level which she has consistently which is very hard to do.

“I do think Naomi Osaka can cause Ash Barty problems [though]. Ash is in her comfort zone a little more when she does have a bit more time, a bit more time to get around to that forehand and Naomi plays incredibly fast and incredibly quick.

“I think that does present some challenges for Ash but I do think, overall, Ash is in better form so I would still pick Ash in that match-up. But Naomi on a good day she is incredible.”

Konta was only able to beat Barty on one occasion out of a possible four meetings, but beat Osaka on the two occasions they played.

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.