By Ros Satar

  • British No. 1 Johanna Konta starts the year in a packed field in Brisbane
  • Faces US Open finalist Madison Keys in the first round
  • Head to head: 1-1
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta is straight back in at the deep end as she takes on Madison Keys in the opening round of the Brisbane International.

 

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Johanna Konta [5] v Madison Keys | H2H: 1-1

British No. 1 Johanna Konta will have no chance to ease herself in, as the packed Brisbane International field has served up US Open finalist Madison Keys as her first opponent of the new season.

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

With their first meeting back in the lower tiers of the tour, with the honours going to Keys, it was a win for Konta in their most recent meeting in Beijing. While Konta’s form tailed off miserably in the summer, Keys was flying high, making her first Slam final, before injury once more cut her season short after Wuhan.

 

When in form we could have expected a ball-battering show of aggression from both players, but both have had issues at the end of last season. It is of course a chance to start afresh, and at least Konta has been out on court.

In her exhibition match against Simona Halep at Hua Hin, there seemed to be a pleasing return to the aggressive style of play that we usually see from her, if a little rusty. Towards the end of last year she often looked as though she was second guessing herself, and seemed far more tentative that we are used to seeing.

Keys probably has the edge over the power she can generate in her ground strokes and when her serving is on, she can expect a decent amount of free points. She might even be a little more adept at the net too – an area that often can leave Konta exposed.

While Keys has also worked on her mobility a lot, Konta has the edge in terms of her agility around the court, but if she can tap into the mental focus that took her to her breakout year in 2016, she has the ability to frustrate the errors out of Keys.

With Michael Joyce in her corner, it will be fascinating to see what tweaks he has brought to her game, and whether she is on the way to getting her edge back. But this could well be a tough one to start and we would not be surprised to see this go the distance.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

 

Also Read: Three Thoughts as Johanna Konta confirms Michael Joyce as her coach

Konta and Keys are scheduled on Pat Rafter Arena, not before 3pm (5am GMT).

Main Image: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

 

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