By Britwatch Tennis

  • Johanna Konta v Ekaterina Makarova H2H: 1-0
  • Konta matches her best Slam performance from last year at the US Open
  • Makarova reached the semi-final at the Australian Open last year, backing up her run to the 2014 US Open semi-final.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta faces Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Konta continues to be bright and breezy as she progresses through the Australian Open, in a run that not only consolidates her run to the same place at the US Open last year, but comes with a sense of belief that she should be finishing up late in the big tournaments.

Joking with the press about the best fish restaurant in town, and healthy breakfasts, Down Under certainly suits the girl from Eastbourne, who originally hailed from Sydney.

All this week the Aussies have seemed desperate to claim her for their own, but while her sister still lives in Australia, home is very much the UK, and we can expect to see her and former British No. 1 Heather Watson teaming up straight after the Australian Open for Fed Cup, along with Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith, who beat them in the doubles on Saturday.

All in all, after a couple of early exits in the warm up tournaments, the AP swing has shaped up very nicely for Konta, but there is little point in reading too much into her lead in her head to head with Makarova. She beat the Russian on grass at (literally) her home tournament on the way to a quarter-final run that actually might have been the catalyst for her successes later in the year.

She has been calm and steady, pumped and nervous in about equal measure on court this week, and embraces all of that as part of the journey.

Makarova is no stranger to this stage – she has been at the semi-final stages of a Slam twice, and countless quarter-finals, and neither of them have dropped a set on the way to this stage. Yet you sense the battle is going to be on, as the Russian has slipped down the rankings somewhat after struggling with a right leg injury in the second half of the year, pulling out of Cincinnati, New Haven, Wuhan and Moscow.

That perhaps makes her ranking and seeding now a little deceptive, but there is no doubt Konta’s star is on the rise. She looks set for a spot inside the Top 40 at the very least when the new rankings come out after the Australian Open, but that should not be enough for her.

She has taken higher ranked scalps than Makarova out before, and has the belief to do it again, but this will be a tough three setter if she wants to earn her place in the quarter-final, exploiting Makarova’s sometime poor footwork.

 

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