Friday, March 8, 2019 - Ashleigh Barty plays Tatjana Maria in the 2nd round of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 5 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Elise Sterck/BNP Paribas Open)
Slated to clash Sunday night on Stadium 1 court at the BNP Paribas Open, there’s only one letter separating the last names of Australian No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and American wild card Jennifer Brady. One letter and a world of experience.
Jennifer Brady has been on a tear at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden this year, making a run to the final of the WTA 125K event held at the picturesque tennis facility the week prior to the main event. Taking advantage of a wild card into the main draw, she defeated qualifier Nao Hibino in the first round and No. 19 seed Caroline Garcia (for the third time this season!) in the second, booking a date with Barty under the lights on Sunday.
Brady’s big-serving, quintessentially American power game has seen her reach a career high ranking of No. 60 back in October of 2017. She’s a fearless ball striker who, after a mediocre sophomore 2018, is finding her feet on home-country hard courts, producing solid results at the early-season Oracle Challenger Series events.
For Barty, reaching the third round in Indian Wells is yet another small step on her seemingly inevitable rise into the WTA’s Top 10, which she finds herself just on the cusp of this year following a quarter-final finish at the Australian Open on top of winning her biggest career title at the WTA Elite Trophy to end last season. It’s just her second appearance in the southern California desert, but she’s already fallen in love with Tennis Paradise.
— Ash Barty (@ashbar96) March 9, 2019
The Aussie’s potent serve – she’s No. 1 this season on service games won – and versatile, all-court game have made her a crowd favorite around the globe, while her down-to-earth, neighborly personality has made her a media favorite in the press rooms. S
Barty will have a tough ask in the form of Brady, who is incidentally ranked No. 1 in first-serve points won this season, and is a match for the World No. 12’s own serving prowess.
Will Barty’s greater experience at this level prove too much for Brady to handle? Or will there be as little to choose between them – as little as a single letter between their names.