Barty party put on hold in Brisbane

Ed Jackson
World No.1 Ash Barty will begin her singles campaign at the Brisbane International on Thursday

Not even Ashleigh Barty's status as arguably Australia's most popular athlete has prevented the world No.1 from playing second fiddle in Brisbane.

Barty won't play her first match of the Australian summer until Thursday as the ATP Cup group stages wrap up in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The late start means the 23-year-old will start her season with what could be a gruelling four matches in four days if she reaches Sunday's final.

The men's teams tournament has held a monopoly on the main arena in Brisbane, with some of the biggest names in women's tennis forced to start their years on outside courts.

Although understandable on the part of organisers to hold off on Barty's season opener until centre court is available to the women's event, the sideshow feel to the opening days of the tournament has been a hot topic of discussion.

Defending Australian Open champion and world No.3 Naomi Osaka began her season in the relative obscurity of Brisbane's Stadium Court on Tuesday, claiming a hard-fought three-set win over Greece's Maria Sakkari.

It's a situation American Sloane Stephens believes showed a lack of a respect.

"When you're a No.1 player in the world who is going to play on the side court, I don't think that that's great," the 2017 US Open champion said after an opening round loss to Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova.

"I think it's kind of a respect thing. We just weren't in the conversation to even be considered.

"It was what the ATP wanted, they got what they wanted, girls to the side, that's kind of how it always is.

"I think it's unfortunate, but we play and we do what we do and hopefully next year there will be some adjustments."

Dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also wasn't impressed after claiming a 2-6 6-1 6-0 first round win over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the stadium court on Tuesday night.

"I just feel that it's kind of weird that the ATP Cup pushed us to the outside courts," the world No.7 said.

"I just don't feel it's pretty fair. I just feel a bit sad for the women's field."

Australian veteran Samantha Stosur, who earlier in the week said it was a "bit rough" on female players and fans to be relegated to the outside courts, will play her second round fixture on Wednesday against American eighth seed Madison Keys.

Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova, who like Barty has a first round bye, will also have to wait until Thursday to play her first match against Australian wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic.