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Konta hands Serena her heaviest defeat

 

By Robert Jones

Johanna Konta found her form in spectacular style to hand Serena Williams the heaviest defeat of her illustrious career.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion won only one game in a match for the first time, with Konta reeling off 12 in a row to triumph 6-1 6-0 in the opening round of the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.

It has been a tough season for Konta, who has dropped to 48th in the world rankings following her second-round loss at Wimbledon to Dominika Cibulkova.

But this was the British number one at her best, taking advantage of a below-par performance from Williams, particularly on serve, with a ruthless display that lasted just 51 minutes.

This was Williams' first match since her Wimbledon final loss to Angelique Kerber and, after holding serve in the first game, things rapidly went downhill.

The 36-year-old landed only 40 per cent of her first serves, served seven double faults and won just 10 points in the second set, where Konta was completely dominant. She will go on to play another American, Sofia Kenin, in the next round.

Speaking on court after the win Konta, who is the first British player to beat Williams, said: "It's an absolute privilege for me to be on the same court as her.

"She obviously wasn't playing anywhere near her best level but I was just trying to play the match on my terms and do what I can out here and put aside the incredible champion she is and play the player on the day.

"I had to stay very much on every single point because against her it can turn around at any point."

Williams, who has climbed back to 26th in the rankings, was playing just her fifth tournament since giving birth to daughter Olympia last September.

She said: "I think she played well in the second set. I wasn't sharp at all in the first set, and she got more confident from there. She ran away with it.

"I know I can play a zillion times better, but I have so many things on my mind, I don't have time to be shocked about a loss that clearly wasn't when I was at my best. I can only try to be there and fight, which is what I was doing. I moved a lot better, too, so I'll take the positives."

Meanwhile, France's Benoit Paire was booed off court at the Citi Open in Washington after a huge meltdown during his first-round loss to Marcos Baghdatis.

Paire, who is known for his short fuse, lost his temper after missing a smash to drop serve and trail 5-2 in the deciding set.

He sat on the court and smashed one racket before flinging it across the tarmac, and then walked to his chair, kicking that before smashing another racket and sending it flying.

After making no effort to return a serve on match point, Paire smashed a final racket before shaking hands.

Belfast Telegraph

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