Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka stay on track for Melbourne last 16 showdown

Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka continued their progress to a likely round of 16 encounter at the Australian Open with second-round victories.

Since the draw was made, a date between the world number one and the defending champion has been set for Sunday, and the two have so far avoided drama.

Osaka briefly looked embarrassed against American Madison Brengle when trailed by a break in the second set, but immediately recomposed to go 6-0 6-4.

Barty has lost just three matches in four sets, coming off a 6-0 6-1 win over Lesia Tsurenko beating qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-1 in just 52 minutes.

The Australian heroine, who is a member of the Ngaragu people through her great-grandmother, was particularly proud to take to the pitch on the first Nations Day of the tournament.

Barty said: “It was really cool. It was nice for me to be a part of it in a way that feels most comfortable to me, I guess. On the tennis court, that’s how I feel. express as an athlete, that’s how I can also express myself as a person.

“A day when we bring cultures together, bring people together, it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy it.

“I just met some of the kids who came from Alice Springs and all over Australia which is amazing for them to come and experience the Australian Open on a really special day for our culture and our heritage.”

Barty will expect to face a tougher test against Italy’s Camila Giorgi, while Osaka could find life very tricky against 20-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, who has found her form in Australia.

A junior prodigy, Anisimova reached the fourth round here and the French Open semi-finals at 17, but has understandably struggled since the death of her father and coach Konstantin later in 2019.

She started this season with a first title in nearly three years in the WTA event at Melbourne Park and picked up a notable win on Wednesday, knocking out 22nd seed and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-5.

Amanda Anisimova beat Belinda Bencic to set up a clash with Naomi Osaka (Simon Baker/AP)

Anisimova said of meeting Osaka: “I’ve wanted to play her for a while. I’m going to enjoy it, I’m going to enjoy the atmosphere. She’s an amazing player so I’m looking forward to that.

It was a good day for the favorites, with in-form duo Paula Badosa and Barbora Krejcikova advancing to the third round.

Fourth seed Krejcikova beat 20-year-old Wang Xiyu of China 6-2 6-3 while eighth seed Badosa cruised to a 6-0 6-3 win over Martina Trevisan .

Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka started strong in Melbourne and beat Jil Teichmann 6-1 6-2 to set up an intriguing clash with 15th seed Elina Svitolina.