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Australian Open: Johanna Konta happy with victory despite failing to hit heights

By Tom Allnutt

Johanna Konta could not deliver the same brilliance that won her the title in Sydney last week but still proved too strong for Kirsten Flipkens in the Australian Open first round.

The British number one produced a scratchy performance in her opening match on Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne but it is a sign of her rising class that she could still convincingly overcome Flipkens, under-ranked at 70th in the world, 7-5 6-2.

The ninth seed will now face Japan's big-hitting but erratic 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, who needed three sets to overcome Thai wildcard Luksika Kumkhum 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 7-5.

Konta's breathtaking wins against Eugenie Bouchard and Agnieszka Radwanska at the Sydney International last week have many tipping her as a contender for the title here but this was not a vintage display from the 25-year-old.

Flipkens played her part, a crafty and, at 31, experienced opponent, but it was more Konta's 22 unforced errors, 12 from her usually reliable backhand side, that made the contest closer than it could have been.

"She made it difficult for me out there," Konta said.

"She's got this great ability at really frustrating her opponents with some of the balls she's able to hit.

"She's very creative in that way so I think I was really happy I was able to work myself into the match and to come through it."

Konta will have been pleased to finish in an hour and 36 minutes and, with an 11am start local time, before the peak heat set in, with temperatures rising to around 35 degrees Celsius.

It was not until a moth, floating around her skirt, interrupted her service that the Briton broke into a smile and appeared to relax. She instantly delivered a booming ace.

"I just saw the moth go between my legs and I didn't see it come out, so I was like, 'Oh no, is it under my skirt?'" Konta said.

Belfast Telegraph


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