By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- No. 9 seed and last year’s quarter-finalist Johanna Konta stunned by lucky loser Bernarda Pera
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta was stunned by the second round by lucky loser Bernarda Pera in straight sets.
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Bernarda Pera [LL] def. Johanna Konta  6-4 7-5
Playing in her third straight main draw at the Australian Open, British No, 1 Johanna Konta kept the flag flying after compatriot Heather Watson just missed out in joining her in today’s round two action. Komta might have recognised her opponent Bernarda Pera from their days on the lower tiers, but it was a first time meeting – which can throw up its own challenges.
Pera was not a player to be taken lightly – she rose nearly 200 ranking places in 2017, finishing at World No. 127 last year. The Croatian turned American had Konta under pressure from the start of the match, bringing up a break point in a hard fought opening game.
Her practice of taking the ball early along with some very wayward serving from Konta, especially in the first game with two double faults, put the Brit on the back foot almost from the start. Pera’s blistering returns saw her break the Brit to love before confidently serving for the set.
We thought that Konta’s trademark hit back was on the cards as she broke early in the second set, but Pera put a stop that with an immediate break back. She would put the Brit under even more pressure as a couple of times konta struggled to keep her footing, but thankfully neither of her two slips looked bad.
Pera showed signs of nerves for the first time serving for the match – three match points came and went as she tightened up and Konta dug deep for a hold, only to lose her serve in the next game with a very strange slip.
Pera built up another three match points – she needed just one of them to score a huge victory over the No. 9 seed, and advance to the third round.
It was a pragmatic Konta in press, gracious in defeat but frustrated at her inability to get things moving out there.
“I think she played very inspired throughout the whole way, and I think I didn’t do enough at the beginning when I had little windows of putting my stamp on the match. I felt I didn’t quite get enough into the match to be able to be able to get going a little bit.
“I don’t think I did enough with my service games, and I don’t think I did enough with my returns, as well. I don’t think I adapted well enough.
“It’s a bit frustrating, but also I think I’m still taking good stuff from this. I don’t feel, by any means, it’s a massive catastrophe.”
There have been a lot of positives to the start of Konta’s season, despite the hip injury scare in Brisbane and an opening loss to Agnieszka Radwanska in Sydney, and we had seen a return to the sharp aggressive play we saw when Konta made her 2016 run.
“I think I stayed very much in the match, and I tried to find a way. I battled, and I competed. I just didn’t play well enough, to be honest. I didn’t play well enough to be able to kind of earn that third set and try to earn my way out of the match.”
What next for Konta?
Next up for the Brit is Fed Cup duty between 7-10 February in the Europe/African Group stages once more, where Great Britain is drawn against Portugal and Estonia in the round-robin stages.
She is planning to play Doha, which takes place between 12-18 February.
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