By Britwatch Team
- H2H: Venus Williams 1-0 Johanna Konta
- Konta & Williams yet to register a win in 2016
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta bids to become the first Brit on the board when she starts her Australian Open campaign against Venus Williams.
At the tail end of last year, as both players were having a well-earned spell of resurgence, Konta had a chance to play against someone she admired, pushing Williams to three sets in the Wuhan quarter-final.
Along the way she had put paid to Andrea Petkovic, had Victoria Azarenka retire on her, and pushed Simona Halep off the face of the draw before finally running out of steam against the elder Williams, but as she moved into the British top spot, it was a coming of age for Konta.
Still grounded and humble, she is searching for her first win of the year, and actually comes into the match just one match better off than Williams. The American crashed out in her season opener in Auckland, and headed straight to Melbourne to prepare while Konta had to make the trop from Shenzhen to Hobart before losing there in the opening round as well.
With Heather Watson having ended up on the wrong end of a taut three-setter, it is down to the British No. 1 to help get things moving for the four remaining Brits in the draw, in a year when we had six players into the main draw.
But this is a tough one. Williams’ own resurgence has been nothing short of miraculous given all her injury and illness woes. We are constantly reminded to enjoy not one but both Williams while we still have them, and there is a quiet suspicion that after Rio, Venus may well choose to step back from the tour.
This is a tough ask for Konta. She has the game to flummox the best players in the rankings but Williams probably has just that much more power, but maybe the calmer Konta can tough it out and push on into the second round.
Konta has now had experience of playing on the really big stages, having faced Maria Sharapova in Wimbledon last year on Centre Court. She has said in press before that take away the stadium, and the court is the same size as some lower tiered event elsewhere in the world. She might need to hold on to that if facing a barrage of first serves, although Williams has a tendency to be just as fruitful with the accompanying double-faults.
Konta will need to be patient and construct her chances – she will not be able to overpower Williams, but she can wear her down.
Konta and Williams are scheduled on Rod Laver Arena, not before 12:30pm (1:30am GMT).
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