By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Johanna Konta  def. Madison Brengle 6-3 6-1
- Faces Lucky Loser Bernarda Pera for the first time in round two
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta powered past Madison Brengle as she began her Australian Open despite blueberry shopping fail.
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Johanna Konta  def. Madison Brengle 6-3 6-1
It had already looked like a promising start to the season after the blip towards the end of last year, when British No. 1 Johanna Konta went on a four-match losing stint, before calling time on her season early with a foot injury.
It was a performance far more in keeping what we had come to expect from Konta in the first half of last year, with aggressive play, but perhaps with a little more patience to build her points – something she attributed to wotking with new coach Michael Joyce.
Before the tournament, she said: 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
“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.”
While we were still treated to a few eye-watering howlers of put-aways, Konta’s aggressive game coaxed more and more errors out of a tenacious Madison Brengle, who certainly got a good many balls back that might have left other opponents standing.
Aggressive patience was the order of the day against Brengle, as Konta explained:
“I was really looking forward to playing actually her. She brings different sorts of difficulties. I thought it was a great first round for me to fight through and battle through and stay strong in the way I wanted to play out there. And I feel I did that.
“I think I have become physically stronger. I have matured physically but also emotionally and mentally. I think Madison is the kind of player who does ask a lot of questions of the people she plays.
“She gets a lot of balls back. I think you need patience to also play with her. For me, personally, that’s definitely one thing I have gotten better at over the years.”
It was a great moment at the net too between the pair, who have been friends for many years on the tour.
She explained: “We have been good friends for a long time. I remember since junior US Open back in 2007. So we have been friends for a long time. We obviously spent quite a bit of time, we were pretty much at the same stage playing a lot of the challengers in the U.S. So we were spending a lot of time together as well. She started doing really well a little before me.”
Konta certainly needed some cheer having tweeting about her shopping trauma!
So I just bought blueberries and forgot them at the store.. never have I been so sad about missing out on blueberries.. #shoppingfail
— Johanna Konta (@JoKonta91) January 15, 2018
“I went to the supermarket to buy blueberries. I only bought blueberries, two punnets. I left two punnets of blueberries there. It’s $5 I won’t get back. It’s actually more the betrayal in my own mind I feel so upset about. I was so sad. (Smiling)
“I was already changed into my PJs and thinking, wait a second, where’s my blueberries? Oh, my gosh, I know.
“Clearly I’m not over the blueberry debacle. No, I’m happy to come through today and I’m just looking forward to playing again on Thursday. I now need to go again to buy blueberries.”
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Konta v Bernarda Pera [LL] | First Meeting
Meeting with old friends/foes from her more formative years on the tour has been the pattern for Konta. Having talked about her friendship with Brengle since playing in the juniors, she knew of Pera, but will rely on Joyce’s scouting information ahead of their match on Thursday.
“I know who she is. And I know what she looks like, because — no, no, it’s important. Sometimes you know the name but you don’t — I know what she looks like because I feel when I was actually still playing on the challenger circuit when she was around there, as well, but I don’t really know much about her.”
Pera had been seeded 14th in the qualifying rounds, eventually loising to the fourth seed Viktorija Golubic in the final round, but came into the draw as a lucky loser following the injury withdrawal of Margarita Gasparyan.
Pera spent most of 2017 playing on the ITF tour events before the hard court swing towards the end of the year, where she lost in the third round of US Open qualifying and played in a couple of the main tour events but with no main draw wins. She started this year playing in the Brisbane qualifying rounds.
Perhaps towards the end of last year, when Konta’s confidence had been frail this could have been a dangererous matchup – no previous experience of playing an opponent who has absolutely nothing to lose, but Konta looks a lot more like the 2016 version who battled her way into a Slam semi-final for the first time.
Her draw certainly does not get any easier from this point on, and if she can play at the same intensity as she did on Tuesday, and indeed sparingly in the forecast temperatures up into the 30s.
Prediction: Konta in two sets.
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