Barty unleashed at Brisbane International

Laine Clark
World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will finally be unleashed at the upcoming Brisbane International

At long last, Australia's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty will finally be unleashed on the Brisbane International on Thursday.

And organisers will be praying that it will be worth the wait.

Some of the world's biggest names in women's tennis have not held back over their season opening tournament playing second fiddle to the inaugural men's ATP Cup at Pat Rafter Arena this week.

It has ensured the Brisbane International has been relegated to the Queensland Tennis Centre's outside courts until Thursday - four days after its official start.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens labelled it disrespectful.

Dual Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova reckoned it was "not fair".

And five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova claimed it made the Brisbane International look like a "second-hand event".

Yet organisers will hope all is forgiven if top seed Barty can make a winning start at Pat Rafter Arena in her second round clash with American qualifier Jennifer Brady on Thursday.

Ipswich product Barty is justifiably the poster girl of the tournament after a remarkable 2019 in which she claimed the world No.1 ranking and became the first Australian woman to win the French Open in 46 years.

But Barty reckoned she wasn't feeling the pressure during her Australian Open preparation which will also take in the January 12-18 Adelaide International.

"To be honest, it's not the be-all and end-all," she said of Brisbane International success.

"It's not going to change the way that I prepare. In Adelaide it's not going to change the way that I prepare at the Australian Open.

"I know that I've done all of my work and all of my training well.

"The challenge for me is to come out here and enjoy it."

Either way Barty will need to hit the ground running at the Brisbane International after the delayed start at the main arena.

She will kick off Thursday's Pat Rafter Arena action against Brady who upset five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova in the opening round.

However, the popular 23-year-old will need to win four matches in as many days if she is to claim her maiden Brisbane International title following the delay to main arena action due to the ATP Cup clash.

And Barty faces the prospect of taking on a former grand slam champion in every round from the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic will follow Barty on centre court against world No.2 and defending Brisbane champion Karolina Pliskova before dual Wimbledon champion Kvitova plays Russian qualifier Ludmilla Samsonova.

Defending Australian Open champion and world No.3 Naomi Osaka then takes on Sofia Kenin in the night session's highlight event.