Ash Barty hurts Australian Open chances after Brisbane International ouster

By @saihoops on
Ashleigh Barty, Ash Barty
Sep 1, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia serves against Sloane Stephens of the United States (not pictured) on day five of the U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. USA TODAY Sports / Geoff Burke

Australian tennis sensation Ash Barty suffered an upset loss to Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in a Round of 32 match of the Brisbane International on Monday night. The defeat meant that Barty, currently ranked No. 17 in the world, will no longer be a top-16 seed at the forthcoming Australian Open. 

As a potential Top-16 seed, Barty would have had an easier path to the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park. Barty was also to benefit from World No. 12 Svetlana Kuznetsova’s withdrawal from the 2018 Australian Open.

After Monday's loss, Barty acknowledged that the defeat would derail her momentum going into the first Grand Slam of the new season. “It didn’t feel right for me and at times last year there were matches where it was the same feeling. I didn’t work so hard last year and in the off-season to spit the dummy after one match. There were times I was able to create pressure but I couldn’t sustain it on her serve, so more and more pressure was on my serve.’’

Barty has been surpassed by Russian Elena Vesnina (World No. 17) and American Madison Keys (No.18) in WTA's live rankings. “There were a few butterflies for the first match of the season, at home, but it was excitement more than nerves. It wasn’t quite there for me and that’s sport," Barty added. 

The 21-year-old Ash Barty rose from World No. 272 to No. 17 in 2017. Barty wants to take positives from her remarkable year into the new season. “It’s been an exciting year and now it’s a new experience for me, expectation wise. You have to embrace it. The attention has changed. It’s been nice to get more support."

According to several analysts, Ash Barty is Australia's next great Grand Slam hope. While Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt remain Australia's last male Grand Slam winners, there hasn't been a female Australian major champion since Samantha Stosur clinched the 2011 US Open. The 2018 Australian Open will be staged at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park between Jan. 15-28.