Ashleigh Barty is staying cool under the added pressure coming from world No 2 Naomi Osaka
The rivalry between world No 1 Ashleigh Barty and 23-year-old Naomi Osaka could be the highlight of the WTA tour over the next couple of years; The Japanese star is now a four-time Grand Slam champion after winning her second Australian Open title
Last Updated: 24/02/21 5:52pm
World No 1 Ashleigh Barty says she does not feel any added pressure coming her way following the ascent of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka.
Barty, who suffered a shock Australian Open quarter-final defeat to Czech Karolina Muchova, only remains top of the rankings because of the temporary switch to a two-year system.
Second-ranked Naomi Osaka won last year's US Open and the Australian Open to add to her Grand Slam haul, but Barty says she does not feel any "extra pressure" from the Japanese ace.
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"The extra pressure is non-existent for me," Barty said. "I can't control what anyone else does. For the tournaments or with the rankings, that's out of my control. As for defending points, I think that's a very negative way to look at it."
The rivalry between Barty and 23-year-old Osaka could be the highlight feature of the tour for the next few years.
"I've only played her a couple times. We haven't played a lot," Barty said, adding she had not watched Saturday's final between Osaka and American Jennifer Brady.
"So hopefully it's an opportunity for me to play against her in some big moments in big tournaments. That's what we dream of, trying to put yourself in position to win big titles.
"So maybe it will happen one day but for the time being that's not what I'm stressed about."
Barty says she is now ready to play tennis week in, week out as she prepares to resume full-time duties on the WTA tour.
The Queenslander, who lost to American Danielle Collins at the Adelaide International, skipped last year's US Open and did not defend her 2019 French Open title, opting not to travel due to health concerns amid the pandemic.
"I think what excites me the most is being able to do what I love on a regular basis and being able to do it week in, week out," Barty told the official WTA website.
"Go through all of the emotions that come with being a professional athlete. With being a tennis player, obviously you have some incredible moments, you have some tough moments and I think that's all the work that you do in between, week in week out, is what I've kind of missed the most."
Barty had been expected to head to the Middle East to play but she has since withdrawn from the Qatar Open in Doha due to a left leg injury.
"Unfortunately I have withdrawn from the Qatar Total Open with a left leg injury," Barty said. "I wish the tournament a safe and successful event and hope to play there next year.
"Thank you to the event organisers and the WTA for all the work you are doing, I look forward to competing again in Miami in a few weeks' time."