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Unfazed Johanna Konta is thriving under pressure in Australia

By Robert Jones

Johanna Konta is aiming to embrace the pressure of reaching the Australian Open third round after she beat China's Saisai Zheng in straight sets.

Konta eased past Zheng 6-2 6-3 to move into the third round of a Grand Slam for the second time, after she reached the last-16 at the US Open last year.

It was only the third time in 14 Slam matches that Konta had been expected to win based on rankings, but she showed few signs of nerves until a late wobble at the end of the second set.

The 24-year-old has had problems in the past controlling her composure on court but says she is enjoying the extra tension.

"There's tension and nerves from me, my opponent, the hundreds of people around me and the situation," Konta said. "But that's normal and I'm going to encounter that every time I play.

"I hope to encounter that every time because it means there's a lot of enjoyment there and good competitiveness."

Konta, after her first-round dismantling of Venus Williams at Rod Laver Arena, found herself back on the peripheral Court 8.

The change in atmosphere did not, however, faze the British No.1, who hit 26 winners and confirmed a comfortable victory in an hour and 22 minutes.

"There was a really good atmosphere," Konta said. "I had a lot of support. It was pretty loud. The lines are in the same places."

Konta will tomorrow face the Czech Republic's World No.66 Denisa Allertova, to whom she lost in three sets in the French Open first round last year.

With second favourite Simona Halep already out, it means the most fancied players in Konta's quarter are now Karolina Pliskova, Ana Ivanovic and Madison Keys - all top 20 opponents but not unbeatable.

Belfast Telegraph

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