By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • Last year’s quarter-finalist Johanna Konta faces Madison Brengle in the first round of the Australian Open
  • Brengle leads their head to head 3-1
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta will start her Australian Open campaign against Madison Brengle.

 

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Johanna Konta [9] v Madison Brengle | H2H: Brengle leads 3-1

On paper this might not be the most ideal start for British No. 1 and World No. 9 Johanna Konta. She will open her Australian Open campaign against Madison Brengle. The head to head alone would be something to worry about, except Konta’s ranking soared with the consistency and confidence especially following her successes in 2016, but she would be the first to claim that this has been a slow burn.

Brengle has had her share of knocking out seeds in Grand Slam – she knocked out the 13th seeded Andrea Petkovic in 2015 so playing someone ranked far higher in the first round will not be daunting for her. However Brengle is nowhere near her former career best ranking of No. 35 in the world, and while Konta might have slipped back a little, after her run of losses at the end of last year, she has remained in or around the Top 10 for a whole year.

As always, she chose to play down any worries of an early flight home, and indeed the last time they played the Brit dished up a bagel set in a straight sets win at Indian Wells. Brengle will certainly make Konta work for the win with a counter-punchers patience as she racks up the rallies and waits for her opponent to lose the point. She moves well, so Konta might have to sharpen up some of her drive volleys which still had a habit if being a little wayward earlier in her Brisbane rounds.

Johanna Konta of Great Britain Pre-Tournament press Conference, Australian Open 2018

Johanna Konta of Great Britain Pre-Tournament press Conference, Australian Open 2018 (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Konta said, of the forthcoming match: “She’s a tricky player. She has beaten some great players. I think her game style is definitely a tricky one to play. I’ve played her twice in WTAs and I think I played her a couple times, I don’t know how many, back in the ITFs

“But I think the last time we played was in Indian Wells, because I remember I think I beat her then. I think that was the first time I beat her, as well.

“But I think, definitely, if one thing’s for sure, you never go up against her underestimating her. She is incredibly tough in the way she competes, the
amount of balls she’s able to get back. I’m going in preparing for a tough match. I’m looking to try to implement some of the things I’ve also learnt from possibly last week, even my three matches in Brisbane.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 09: Johanna Konta of Great Britain speaks to her coach, Sydney 2018 (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

There has been some pleasing elements to Konta’s new start with Michael Joyce as her coach. Her aggressive style of play has returned – she did not seem to be overthinking the ball as she was at the end of last year, and she offered a little insight as to why:

“It’s when you’re on court, the feeling you get of when someone is talking to you is they’re talking from experience, they’re almost talking to you about feelings and talking to you about intentions. It’s not so specifically to — not so analytical about a specific shot.

“It’s more to do with what you’re trying to do with the ball. It’s two different perspectives. It’s like what are you trying to accomplish, what are you trying to do with this ball, instead of more racquet head speed.”

Head to head aside this is a winnable match for Konta to start her run, with a tough draw ahead of her.

Prediction: Konta in two sets.

Konta and Brengle are scheduled for 11am Tuesday, on Hisense Arena.

 

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