MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Japan’s Naomi Osaka overpowered Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-2 to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time on Saturday, leaving the host nation without a contender for the Australian Open women’s title.
Barty’s quantum leap from the outside the top 200 to number 17 in the world rankings over the last year had given some in Australia hope that the former cricketer might be a contender to end their 40-year wait for a women’s champion.
Osaka shredded those hopes in 73 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, breaking Barty to open both sets and combining 12 aces, the last on match point, with 24 winners in a ruthless display of power tennis.
The 20-year-old Japanese, who is ranked 72nd and beat defending champion Angelique Kerber at the U.S. Open last year, will next face Romania’s world number one Simona Halep for a place in the quarter-finals.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O'Brien