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Konta all fired up for Wozniacki showdown

Tennis

By Tom Allnutt

Johanna Konta expects former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki to be a true test of her credentials of winning the Australian Open.

Konta reached the semi-finals last year and is closing in on the second week again, with Denmark's Wozniacki up next.

Wozniacki does not possess Naomi Osaka's weapons - Konta defeated the Japanese in the last round - but will offer a far sterner test as the 17th seed and is resurgent after reaching the US Open semi-finals in September.

"Naomi is a great server and a big ball striker. I was definitely keen on making my stamp in the match, and I feel like I managed to do that as the match went on," said the British No.1.

Konta is the last British player in the women's draw at Melbourne Park after Heather Watson endured a painful defeat to American qualifier Jennifer Brady.

Osaka is widely considered a future star of the women's game with her booming serve and blistering forehand, but Konta handed the 19-year-old a lesson.

The Briton's 6-4 6-2 victory showed the sort of form that will have the draw's biggest names taking notice. Konta has surged from 150th three years ago to ninth.

"While we were doing the five-minute warm-up, the presenter was going through how I did last year and how I'm back here now," Konta said.

"That gave me goosebumps, just because it has kind of come full circle with one season. That made me feel a bit warm inside."

Konta's status as a genuine contender to win the first Grand Slam of the year is credit, in part, to her mental resilience which was in evidence again in the pressure moments against Osaka.

"I love playing on these amazing courts and I'm looking forward to staying here as long as possible," she said.

Watson, meanwhile, squandered five match points and nine break points in the deciding set before going down 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 10-8 to Brady, ranked 117th in the world and making her debut at a Grand Slam.

"It was a tough day, especially because of the scoreline and having match points," Watson said.

"It's one of the worst ways to lose," she added.

"On the match points, only one I can remember having a rally. Otherwise she served very well."

Kyle Edmund also bowed out, beaten 6-2 6-4 6-2 by Spain's 30th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

Edmund had won his first match, beating Santiago Giraldo, but the world number 46 started slowly against Carreno Busta and never recovered.

"It's one match I have lost that I wish I could have done better on, and I will get better from it," Edmund said.

"I just played a poor match. There is no one going to be more disappointed than me about it."

Belfast Telegraph

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