By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [5] def. Madison Keys 4-6 64 6-3
  • Promising start for the Brit as she snaps a 5-match losing streak
  • Faces Ajla Tomljanovic next
  • Heather Watson replaced Petra Kvitova, as a lucky loser, but fell in straight sets
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta was back to winning ways as she battled past Madison Keys, but there was no joy for Lucky Loser Heather Watson at the Brisbane International.




Johanna Konta [5] def. Madison Keys 4-6 6-4 6-3

British No. 1 Johanna Konta snapped the five-match losing streak that dogged her end of the 2017 season with a hard fought battle over US Open finalist Madison Keys. She had to do it the hard way too, as she lost the first set and had to dig deep and work things out to get the better of the American.

In fairness, for both in a highly competitive encounter, neither did a whole lot wrong with just a single break to separate them. Konta started the slower having to fight hard to hold on to her service games, with the pressure being amped up my Keys in the first set, holding break points for three games in a row before she got the break at the end.

Madison Keys US Open 2017, Flushing Meadows, New York

Photo by Mike Frey/BPI/REX/Shutterstock | Madison Keys US Open 2017, Flushing Meadows, New York

Konta only had one look at the Keys serve, and everything was working for the American – her backhand in particular was firing very well. In the Queensland humidity though, Konta kept her cool as she found the rhythm on her serve, breaking just once and keeping keys at bay to level the match.

After a break to change kit, Konta raced out of the blocks with an an immediate break to love, but had a long battle to consolidate and the quality of rallying at times from the pair made this live up to its billing of the match of the day on the schedule.

Konta had not shown any of the signs of doubt that we had seen towards the tail end of the year, and broke to advance to the second round on her second time of asking.

There was a lot of positives for both to take – Konta resisted asking new coach Michael Joyce to come down for a coaching session, and seemed to figure out what was needed for herself. Keys looked fit and more importantly healthy as she repeatedly found winners off the backhand, only perhaps looking a little weary towards the end of a match that was just shy of two hours and 10 minutes.


Konta v Alja Tomljanovic [WC] | First Meeting

For her battles, Konta earns a shot at Croatian-turned-Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round. In a first time meeting, Konta can probably expect more of the same as she saw from Keys.

Tomljanovic has a big serve and forehand combination, but after being dogged with injury, her recovery from shoulder surgery, she clambered back from World No. 664 to just outside the Top 100 by the end of the year.

Embed from Getty Images

We would warn against too much complacency after a solid Konta win. She needs her serve to be firing as well as it was, as the match wore on, but there were positive signs that her focus was back. She acknowledged in her on-court interview that the Croatian had been a player in good form, reaching a career high of No. 47 in 2015.

In 2016, what was impressive about Konta was her ability not to panic, especially if down a set, and to puzzle her way through. With a first time opponent, that is equally important. If she can start the way in which she finished the match, then this ought to be another good win under her belt at the start of the season.

Prediction: Konta in two sets.

Konta and Tomljanovic are scheduled on Pat Rafter Arena on Tuesday, not before 7pm (9am GMT)




Anett Kontaveit def. Heather Watson [LL] 6-0 6-3

After starting her season with a couple of solid wins, Heather Watson looked out of the tournament, losing in both the final round of qualies, and the doubles, but got a lifeline into the main draw after Petra Kvitova withdrew with a viral illness.

There her luck ran out as she came up against an extremely solid Anett Kontaveit. Building a lot on her momentum from last year the Estonian kept Watson at bay despite some tight games.

Even Watson’s coach Colin Beecher had to contend that Kontaveit was just ‘too good’ on the day as Watson arrested the slide from the first set, and at least got herself on the board in the second.

Watson is scheduled to play the qualifying round in Hobart, where she won the title in 2015

Main Image: Photo by Mike Frey/BPI/REX/Shutterstock



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