Sofia Kenin stunned world number one Ash Barty to reach her first grand slam final at the Australian Open but it came as no surprise to the American, who always believed. 

Kenin spoiled the 'Barty Party' on Thursday, the 14th seed upstaging the Australian star 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 in sweltering heat in Melbourne, where the temperature soared towards 40 degrees Celsius.

The 21-year-old Kenin, who will meet two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza in Saturday's decider, became the first American other than a Williams sister to progress to the Australian Open final since Lindsay Davenport in 2005.

Kenin also became the youngest player to defeat a world number one at the tournament since 2008, when Maria Sharapova knocked out Justine Henin in the quarter-finals. 

"I always believed I can. Of course, I didn't have a book. I didn't know exactly when. I feel like at this young age, I think it's incredible," Kenin, who saved two set points in both the first and second sets, told reporters.

"Not everyone gets to live this moment, live this dream. I'm just really grateful for it. I've worked so hard. I've put all the efforts into my practices, into my fitness. All the efforts I've been doing, it's got me here. It's just paying off and it's like a dream come true for me."

Kenin added: "I'm not shocked. It's a dream come true for me. I've always dreamed about this. Of course, I believed in myself. 

"I was playing, I knew I was in the semi-final. It was just great. I'm so happy I was able to share the court with Ash.

"After the match, of course it's pretty emotional. It's the finals. It's something different. It's surreal. [I'm] so grateful for it."

It was all about perspective for world number one Ash Barty, who spoke to the media holding her baby niece after sensationally losing in the Australian Open semi-finals. 

Barty had a great opportunity to become the first Australian woman since 1980 to reach the final in Melbourne, however, the top seed was upstaged 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 by Sofia Kenin on Thursday.

All eyes were on Barty throughout the tournament at Melbourne Park, having arrived as the WTA's top-ranked player, WTA Finals winner and French Open champion.

Barty was unable to go all the way amid the hype, but the Australian star was in good spirits afterwards.

"Perspective is a beautiful thing," said Barty, who arrived for her news conference with special guest Olivia. "Life is a beautiful thing. She brought a smile to my face as soon as I came off the court. I got to give her a hug. It's all good. It's all good."

Barty and 14th seed Kenin were forced to endure scorching conditions, with the temperature just short of 40 degrees Celsius.

The Rod Laver Arena roof remained opened throughout as the heat stress scale hovered towards five, which would have meant a suspension in play and roof closure.

Barty, though, refused to use the weather as an excuse after wasting two set points in each of the first and second sets.

"I've grown up in Queensland. I've played in summers, played in the sun a long time. I know Sofia has also grown up in Florida," Barty said. "Everyone is playing in the same conditions. It didn't help or hinder me. It kind of is what it is."

Barty added: "I think [it was] a match where I didn't feel super comfortable. I felt like my first plan wasn't working. I couldn't execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to B and C. I think I had to dig and find a way. 

"I mean, I'm two points away from winning that in straight sets, which is disappointing. Knowing I had to fight and scrap, I still gave myself a chance to win the match."

She continued: "It's disappointing. But it's been a hell of a summer. I mean, if you would have told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I'd take that absolutely every single day of the week."

Sofia Kenin advanced to her first grand slam final after stunning world number one Ash Barty 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 in scorching heat at the Australian Open. 

Barty was looking to become the first Australian woman to reach the decider in Melbourne since Wendy Turnbull in 1980, however, the top seed wasted chances as she lost with the temperature approaching 40 degrees celsius on Thursday.

Kenin, who saved a pair of set points in each of the first and second sets, spoiled the party to become the first American other than a Williams sister to progress to the Australian Open final since Lindsay Davenport in 2005.

The 21-year-old - set to face either 2018 runner-up Simona Halep or Garbine Muguruza - also became the youngest player to defeat a world number one at the tournament since 2008, when Maria Sharapova upstaged Justine Henin in the quarter-final. 

It was all power and prowess to start the semi-final, with not much separating the pair in scorching conditions in Melbourne, where the Rod Laver Arena roof remained opened throughout.

Barty - who had won the opening set in all five of her previous encounters with the American - threatened to break serve in the sixth game, but Kenin saved all three opportunities.

There was a stunning sequence of play in the following game, when Barty was left scrambling as she chased down a drop shot and then sprinted back to get to a lob before defending desperately - Kenin eventually forehanding into the net and dropping her racquet in shock.

Barty, who hit 22 winners to Kenin's 12 in the first set, was then left to rue a missed opportunity after opting not to challenge a call at 30-30 in the 12th game. Replays showed the ball was out as Kenin forced a tie-break.

And it was a bad decision after Kenin saved a pair of set points in the tie-break before stunning French Open winner Barty following 59 minutes of energy-sapping tennis.

However, Barty bounced straight back in the second set, claiming the first break of the match in the third game for a 2-1 lead - Kenin spraying a forehand long.

Barty looked to be cruising towards a third and deciding set, bringing up two set points, but Kenin fended off both and then sensationally broke to level at 5-5 before going on to silence the Australian crowd.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Sofia Kenin [14] bt Ash Barty [1] 7-6 (8-6) 7-5

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Kenin – 16/25
Barty –  33/36

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Kenin – 2/1
Barty – 8/1

BREAK POINTS WON  
Kenin – 2/4
Barty – 1/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Kenin – 70
Barty – 50

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Kenin – 69/63
Barty – 80/50

TOTAL POINTS  
Kenin – 81
Barty – 78

Ash Barty is excited about her run at the Australian Open, but the world number one is trying to ignore the expectations of a nation.

Barty became the first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since 1984 by overcoming Petra Kvitova 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 on Tuesday.

However, while the 23-year-old French Open champion is happy with her run, Barty is ignoring the hype in Melbourne.

"I'm excited. My team's excited. We love the opportunity of getting another match out on that beautiful court," Barty told a news conference.

She added: "I don't pay attention to it [the nation being on her side] honestly. I'm here to try and do the best that I can.

"Obviously it's exciting. Hopefully I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world.

"For me, it's trying to do the best that I can, find that enjoyment for myself and my team."

Barty will face Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals after the American 14th seed beat Ons Jabeur.

Ash Barty ended a 36-year wait for her nation by reaching the Australian Open semi-finals with a straight-sets win over Petra Kvitova.

In a rematch of last year's quarter-final won comfortably by Kvitova, Barty secured a 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

The world number one became the first Australian woman to reach the last four at the tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

Barty, last year's French Open champion, will face American 14th seed Sofia Kenin in the last four.

The players traded breaks to love early before Barty fought out a tough hold after a 20-point seventh game.

Last year's runner-up Kvitova targeted Barty's second serve with plenty of success, but while four consecutive games went to deuce, both held serve through to a tie-break.

A 69-minute first set went Barty's way, winning the last three points of the tie-break – which was highlighted by a 22-shot point during which the Australian showcased her defensive abilities – thanks to Kvitova errors.

Barty broke in the opening game of the second set and again in the third, producing a delicate lob to take a 3-0 lead.

A desperate and aggressive Kvitova pulled one break back in the sixth game, but handed it straight back in the next with a double fault.

Barty managed to close it out in the next game, an ace out wide seeing her complete the job.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Ash Barty [1] bt Petra Kvitova [7] 7-6 (8-6) 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS  
Barty – 20/28
Kvitova – 28/38

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS  
Barty – 5/3
Kvitova – 2/6

BREAK POINTS WON  
Barty – 4/8
Kvitova – 2/12

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Barty – 63
Kvitova – 56

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Barty – 74/35
Kvitova – 63/45

TOTAL POINTS  
Barty – 82
Kvitova – 73

Ashleigh Barty avenged her fourth-round defeat at Wimbledon to Alison Riske by overcoming the American in three sets in the Australian Open fourth round.

The world number one battled to victory in an hour and 36 minutes to book a quarter-final meeting with Petra Kvitova, who came from a set down to beat Maria Sakkari.

Coco Gauff saw her brilliant week end in disappointment as she lost to compatriot Sofia Kenin, who is into the last eight of a grand slam singles tournament for the first time.

Qiang Wang, who stunned Serena Williams in round three, was defeated in straight sets by Ons Jabeur – another woman making major history in Melbourne.

NO REWARD FOR RISKE AS BARTY BATTLES ON 

Australia's hope for a home champion continues after Barty recovered from a miserable second set to defeat Riske for the first time. 

Riske won their first encounter in Eastbourne in 2016 before taking victory at Wimbledon last year, but Barty ended that losing streak with a 6-3 1-6 6-4 success. 

Barty was clinical in the opening set against too many errors from Riske, but the 29-year-old rallied in the second, breaking twice and dropping just five points on her own serve to force the decider. 

At 5-4, Barty set up match point with a backhand pass and Riske produced just her second double fault to hand victory to the favourite. 

"It was third time's a charm for me tonight," said Barty. "I just had to hang in there. It was very tough from both ends playing very differently. I just had to give myself a chance." 

Barty will face Kvitova next in a repeat of last year's quarter-final, the Czech having fought from a set down to defeat Sakkari.

"I love Petra, but let's hope she doesn't break my heart again on Tuesday!" said Barty, who was beaten 6-1 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena in 2019.

  

COCO MANIA DEPARTS MELBOURNE​, JABEUR MAKES HISTORY

Gauff's fairytale run came to an end at the hands of countrywoman Kenin, who steamrolled the 15-year-old 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-0 on Melbourne Arena.

American sensation Gauff dethroned defending champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round and she looked on track to reach the quarters in Melbourne.

However, fellow rising star and 14th seed Kenin blitzed Gauff to reach her first grand slam quarter-final.

Next up for Kenin is Jabeur after the Tunisian beat Chinese star Qiang Wang 7-6 (7-4) 6-1.

Wang eliminated 23-time slam singles champion Williams in the third round, however, she was unable to back it up on Sunday.

Jabeur, who hit 29 winners, became the first Arab woman to ever make a slam quarter-final.

KVITOVA RETURNS TO QUARTERS

Australian Open runner-up Kvitova avoided a major upset as she rallied past Sakkari 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

After losing a tight first set, two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova hit 33 winners and broke Sakkari eight times en route to a fourth quarter-final in Melbourne.

Playing in front of a vocal Green contingent supporting Sakkari, Kvitova said: "When I was shaking the hand with the umpire, I told him it was like a soccer match today. I mean, it's nice on one side. On the other side, it's the tennis, and it's not a Fed Cup. It's strange. But it didn't bother me at all."

World number one Ash Barty made serene progress to the fourth round of the Australian Open as Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams suffered shock exits.

Coco Gauff claimed another famous scalp in the form of defending champion Osaka to join Williams' conqueror Qiang Wang in the next round.

In a mixed day for the American contingent, Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin also went through, but Madison Keys was knocked out in straight sets.

Petra Kvitova was in commanding form as she progressed, while Caroline Wozniacki saw her career come to an end with defeat.

OSAKA DEFENCE ENDS AS SERENA WAIT GOES ON

Gauff got revenge for a rout at the hands of Osaka at the US Open last year to claim the biggest win of her fledgling career, seeing off the number three seed 6-3 6-4.

Beaten 6-3 6-0 in just 65 minutes at Flushing Meadows, 15-year-old Gauff made the most of 30 unforced errors from her opponent to set up a meeting with compatriot Kenin, who defeated Shuai Zhang 7-5 7-6 (9-7).

Williams' wait for a 24th grand slam singles title goes on, the American beaten in 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 by Wang in a gripping encounter.

The 38-year-old, who hit 56 unforced errors to Wang's 20, confessed afterwards: "I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today."

OMINOUS SIGNS FROM BARTY AND KVITOVA

There were no such concerns for Barty, who dispatched Elena Rybakina 6-3 6-2 in 78 minutes.

The home favourite will face Riske in the fourth round, the American outlasting Julia Goerges 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova progressed in similarly imperious fashion, seeing off Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1 6-2.

Kvitova, who is yet to drop a set at this year's event, will now face Maria Sakkari after her impressive 6-4 6-4 defeat of Keys.

 

TEARFUL WOZNIACKI BOWS OUT

Former world number one Wozniacki saw her career come to an end with a three-set defeat to Ons Jabeur.

The 2018 champion lost 7-5 3-6 7-5 to the Tunisian, who will play a fourth-round match at a major for the first time against Wang.

An emotional Wozniacki, who fought back from 3-0 down in the decider but was decisively broken in the 11th game, said afterwards: "I want to be out there fighting. I fought like my life depended on it."

Ash Barty and Serena Williams moved through at the Australian Open as Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff set up a third-round showdown.

Home favourite and world number one Barty was untroubled on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, continuing her run in Melbourne.

Williams was below her best but still advanced during the night session as her bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam title continued.

There is also the prospect of a mouthwatering showdown between two of the game's leading lights on Friday.

 

BARTY, SERENA UNTROUBLED

Barty brushed past Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-1 6-4 in just 66 minutes on the back of a consistent performance.

The Australian mixed 16 winners – nine of those from the forehand side – with 16 unforced errors, setting up a clash with Kazakh 29th seed Elena Rybakina.

Williams was left frustrated during the second set of her 6-2 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek.

The American star was pushed before advancing in one hour, 18 minutes, having committed 28 unforced errors, including 17 in the second set.

Next up for Williams is Wang Qiang, the Chinese 27th seed having rushed past Fiona Ferro 6-1 6-2.

 

OSAKA, GAUFF SET UP BLOCKBUSTER CLASH

Osaka's title defence stayed alive with a 6-2 6-4 victory over China's Zheng Saisai.

The Japanese third seed faces her biggest test yet in the third round, where Gauff awaits after the teenager's comeback win.

Gauff looked set for an exit, trailing Sorana Cirstea 3-0 in the final set.

But the 15-year-old fought back to claim a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory and reach the third round at a grand slam for the third straight time.

Osaka crushed Gauff 6-3 6-0 when the pair met at last year's US Open.

 

WOZNIACKI STAYS ALIVE AS KVITOVA, KEYS ADVANCE

Caroline Wozniacki stretched her professional career for at least another match by beating Ukrainian 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska 7-5 7-5.

The 2018 Australian Open champion, who is retiring at the end of the tournament, came from 5-1 down in the first set and 3-0 behind in the second.

Last year's runner-up, Petra Kvitova, was tested in a 7-5 7-5 victory over Spain's Paula Badosa while Madison Keys also had moments of concern in her 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 win over Arantxa Rus.

Petra Martic (13) and Aryna Sabalenka (11) were among the seeds to fall, with the latter beaten by Carla Suarez Navarro in their opening-round clash.

Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka corrected an on-court interviewer over a mistake about the WTA's number one ranking. 

Osaka's title defence continued with a 6-2 6-4 win over Saisai Zheng in the second round at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

Seeded third for this year's opening grand slam but ranked fourth in the world, Osaka was dethroned as the WTA's number one by Ash Barty following the US Open.

When it was put to her that she could return to the top of the rankings with back-to-back Australian Open titles, Osaka - who has points to defend - looked on quizzically.

"Get through where to be number one in the world?," the confused Japanese star replied to the interviewer.

Top seed Barty has 8,017 points, well ahead of Osaka's 5,496.

Pressed again on the possibility of returning to the summit, Osaka said: "Oh really?

"No I thought because Ash [Barty] is like 2,000 points ahead of me and I have to defend this, that I'm going to drop out of the top 10 for real. OK that's good news for me... I guess."

Osaka overcame warm but breezy conditions to advance to the third round of the slam in Melbourne, not before her frustrations spilled over in the second set.

After dropping serve, Osaka dropped her racquet and kicked it before storming through to the next round.

"I definitely got very frustrated in the second set, and it's something that I knew would happen, but I didn't know the scale, like, what she would do to make me frustrated," Osaka told reporters in her post-match news conference.

"I think that I just really have to focus on knowing that I'm going to have really tough matches and I have to find a way to go around it and just be consistently level-headed."

Osaka added: "She was slicing and dicing and getting everything. I was, like, 'Can I just hit a winner already?' She was, like, 'No, I'm going to get everything'. That's basically what happened."

World number one Ash Barty was relieved to come through the "chaos" of a first day of few shocks at the Australian Open.

Home favourite and top seed Barty had to come from a set down to progress in Melbourne, beating Lesia Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1.

The Queenslander ensured she joined several other big names in advancing, with defending champion Naomi Osaka triumphing along with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova - straight-sets winners over Anastasia Potapova and Katerina Siniakova respectively.

Venus Williams did not follow her sister into round two, though, as she fell to 15-year-old Coco Gauff once again.

Gauff had already beaten fellow American Williams at Wimbledon last year and pulled off a repeat on Monday.

Sloane Stephens crashed out 2-6 7-5 6-2 to Zhang Shuai, while Barbora Strycova lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, but fellow seeds Petra Martic, Sofia Kenin and Ekaterina Alexandrova all advanced.

Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire at the end of the tournament, prolonged her career by easing past Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3.


BARTY GETTING BETTER AT EACH SLAM

Barty won the French Open last season and feels she is improving with the experience of every major.

"It's always a little bit different, I think," she said. "Slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going because there's so many people.

"It's busy with singles and doubles players, mixed players, families, coaches, everyone underneath. It's just chaos.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each slam that I've played. It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

Reflecting on her role as a home favourite and the top seed, Barty added: "I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how. I'm doing it with my team. We're doing it as a team.

"We're loving it. We're embracing it. There's no other way to approach it. I think we're just going along for the ride, trying to play some good tennis."


VENUS: THE SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR COCO

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams knows a thing or two about champions, and she expects new nemesis Gauff to go all the way to the top.

Asked if the teenager has a "champion's mentality", Williams replied: "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age. I think the sky's the limit for her."

The veteran was impressed by Gauff's mentality, adding: "She just played very focused and put a lot of balls in the court. That's what you have to do.

"She'll play well for the rest of the event."


WOZNIACKI 'TRYING TO ENJOY THE MOMENT'

Knowing her career is coming to an end, Wozniacki acknowledged she found it difficult to keep her emotions in check.

But the 2018 champion is determined to enjoy her final days at the top of the sport.

"I feel good, having won my first match here. It's always tricky, especially knowing it's my last tournament," she said. "There's a lot of just emotions, but I tried to keep them in check, and I thought I did that very well today.

"I think I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment. I don't know that there is one particular moment, but there is once in a while where you're like, 'Wow, this really is my last one'.

"You never know, it [could be] still two weeks from now. But every match you go out there, I'm just going to give it everything that I have, because it could be the last."

After a quarter-final run at the 2019 Australian Open, a lot has changed for Ashleigh Barty but it is business as usual for the world number one in Melbourne.

Australian star Barty arrives at Melbourne Park for her home grand slam as the WTA Tour's top-ranked player and the reigning French Open and WTA Finals champion.

Barty became the first Australian to win the Roland Garros singles title since Margaret Court in 1973 and the first Australian to claim a major singles title since Sam Stosur's 2011 US Open triumph.

Her memorable 2019 exploits have heightened expectations in Melbourne, where all eyes are on the top seed ahead of her opening match against Lesia Tsurenko.

However, Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer told Omnisport: "There's more expectations on her, but she knows she has to go out there and compete every day, do her best. The result takes care of itself. If she's able to do that and keep focused on that stuff, she'll do some damage."

"The pre-season was pretty strong," Tyzzer said. "Ash put a lot of effort it. She's particularly fussy and a bit of a perfectionist anyway, so it kept her on edge a bit more knowing 'okay well I've got a responsibility here as well'.

"It's been good. We know what's coming but we will treat everything pretty much the same with regard to how we approach her matches."

"Slams are so hard to win over the two weeks, being healthy and playing well all the time," he continued. "Her expectations are that every match is going to be tough. She's pretty ready for the battle, and hopefully she can go deep into the tournament."

Barty is fresh off a 57-13 season on the WTA Tour – a year which yielded four titles from six finals in Miami, Paris, Birmingham and Shenzhen.

The 23-year-old claimed the biggest winner's cheque in tennis history after collecting $4.42million thanks to her WTA Finals victory over Elina Svitolina in November.

"I think her consistent level of play," Tyzzer said when asked about anything specific that helped Barty make such an impact last year. "There weren't many ups or downs. There weren't really super highs or big drop offs. I felt like over the 12 months her level was very consistent.

"There were a few times where she was tired after long periods of time. We could see that kind of stuff coming, so we controlled that fairly well with breaks and then build up again to the next tournament block. Her ability to play at a good level throughout the whole year was probably the biggest factor, I know there were other areas."

Barty's success saw Tyzzer – who has worked with the Queenslander since she returned to the sport in 2016 after a cricket stint – recognised as the WTA Coach of the Year.

But Tyzzer and countrywoman Barty are refusing to stand still in pursuit of further glory.

"There's certainly areas where she can get better. We've been working through the summer on her transitioning, try to get into the net more and get in behind her good shots. She sees it well in doubles but probably doesn't see it as well in singles yet. So that's probably one of the areas I'd like her to spend time on," he added.

"You can never sit still in the sport. If you sort of stop and feel like you've done everything and you're not going to improve then someone else is going to run over the top of you pretty quickly."

"We're doing a lot more work on her strength and speed, movement around the court," Tyzzer said. "Putting in a lot of time on returning, trying to make that better as well. As a coach, you're always looking for improvements, but you also have to acknowledge the good stuff and continue to encourage what she's done well. She's put good results together, so you don't want to make drastic changes just for the sake of changing.  You have to be careful with that stuff too."

Ash Barty claimed her first title in her native Australia as she defeated Dayana Yastremska in the final of the Adelaide International.

The world number one will start her campaign to add her home grand slam to the French Open title she won in 2019 next week, and will do so in fine form after seeing off one of the most promising players on the WTA Tour.

Nineteen-year-old Yastremska was playing in her first WTA Premier final and it was Barty's experience that won the day in one hour and 26 minutes.

Having twice been a runner-up in the Sydney International, Barty laid those demons to rest with a 6-2 7-5 success that should give her plenty of confidence as she heads to Melbourne Park.

The first set was one dictated by Barty, as she used her nous to work the angles against Yastremska, playing a reigning world number one for the first time in her fledgling career.

Yastremska's unfamiliarity with such a situation was reflected by the 12 unforced errors she made in the first set.

By contrast Barty committed just one unforced error in the opener and was a constant threat to the Yastremska serve.

The Ukrainian's fifth service game saw her fend off three break points before Barty snatched a fourth to take a 1-0 lead in the second set, only to surrender her advantage with a series of errors.

Emboldened by the break back, Yastremska pressured the Barty serve again in the eighth game of the set, but the opportunity to earn a crucial second break was spurned.

Barty was ruthless in punishing Yastremska's profligacy, and won the final 10 points of the match to seal an eighth WTA singles title.

She will face another Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko, in the first round of the Australian Open, while Yastremska will be expected to have little trouble against fellow teenager Kaja Juvan.

Naomi Osaka believes she is not as fearless as last year as she prepares for her Australian Open title defence.

The Japanese star claimed her second grand slam title in Melbourne in 2019, backing up her US Open success from just months prior.

But the 22-year-old, seemingly more aware of what was at stake, said she felt more fearless last year.

"I feel like last year I was young. Last year I feel like I was young. I was just this young kid that was going out. My goal was to win, and I wasn't going to let anything stop me," Osaka told a news conference on Saturday.

"I feel like now I appreciate more every single win because I know what it took to get it.

"Of course, I want to win every match and I want to go out there and do that. That's what I'm here for.

"I think maybe last year I was a little bit more fearless."

Osaka, the world number three, is again among the favourites and faces Marie Bouzkova in her first-round match.

Ashleigh Barty, the world's top-ranked player, is also expected to challenge and Osaka praised the Australian while talking down suggestions of a rivalry with a player she has met three times since the start of 2018.

"It's super weird. People keep asking me questions like we're rivals or something. She's in the finals of Adelaide right now," she said.

"I think obviously she's a great player. She's the number one ranked player in the world. I don't know, we've played really close matches."

Garbine Muguruza hopes to be fit for the Australian Open after withdrawing from the Hobart International due to a viral illness.

Former world number one Muguruza withdrew from her quarter-final against Veronika Kudermetova on Thursday.

The two-time grand slam winner is scheduled to face a qualifier in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. She is in the same quarter of the draw as Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber.

Muguruza tweeted: "I'm sorry I could not play today. I've had a fever for several days and this morning my body said 'enough'.

"I'll rest today and hope to travel to Melbourne tomorrow. I hope to be able to play [the Australian Open].

"I want to thank all the fans in Hobart for their support and love. I hope to return soon."

Heather Watson beat top seed Elise Mertens 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-5 to reach the semi-finals, while Kudermetova will take on Zhang Shuai.

At the Adelaide international Simona Halep suffered a 6-3 6-2 quarter-final loss to Aryna Sabalenka.

Second seed Halep lasted just one hour and nine minutes against Sabalenka, who reeled off seven straight games to take the first set and move 5-0 up in the second.

The Wimbledon champion won the next two games but was unable to hold serve to stay in the match.

Sabalenka will take on Dayana Yastremska, who beat Donna Vekic 6-4 6-3, in the semi-finals.

Top seed Ash Barty repeated her French Open final victory over Marketa Vondrousova to reach the final four in Adelaide.

Barty hit 20 winners and saved six of seven break points to secure a 6-3 6-3 triumph and advance to a meeting with Danielle Collins after the American overcame Belinda Bencic 6-3 6-1.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, while Venus Williams has again been pitted against Coco Gauff.

Gauff produced one of 2019's most remarkable results when she beat five-time Wimbledon champion Williams in the first round at the All England club, and the 15-year-old will again face her compatriot in the opening round of 2020's first major.

Serena Williams starts her latest quest for a 24th grand slam singles title against another teenager, Anastasia Potapova, and she could be on for a quarter-final against defending champion Naomi Osaka, who plays Marie Bouzkova in round one.

Ashleigh Barty, who heads into her home slam at the top of the WTA rankings, begins her campaign against Lesia Tsurenko and could meet last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

Fourth seed Simona Halep takes on Jennifer Brady in round one, with Maria Sharapova facing a difficult opener against Donna Vekic and second seed Karolina Pliskova meeting Kristina Mladenovic.

World number two Djokovic faces a tough start to his title defence in Melbourne against Jan-Lennard Struff, who climbed 20 places in the ATP rankings between January 2019 and this year.

Federer, seeking his 21st grand slam title and seventh in Australia, begins against American Steve Johnson and could face a round-of-16 match with Grigor Dimitrov, who won their last meeting at the quarter-final stage of the US Open.

Djokovic is on course to meet Federer in the semis but Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has beaten the Serbian twice in four meetings, may lie in wait first at the quarter-final stage.

World number one Rafael Nadal meets Hugo Dellien in the first round and could face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in round four.

Dominic Thiem could await Nadal in the quarter-finals, the Austrian beginning his quest for a maiden grand slam triumph against Adrian Mannarino.

World number four Daniil Medvedev has a difficult opening match against Frances Tiafoe, with Alexander Zverev a possible last-eight opponent.

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