By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta def. Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(4) 2-6 7-6(10-7)
  • Konta v Garbiñe Muguruza [18]
  • H2H: Konta leads 2-1

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Will Johanna Konta’s move away from strict routine be the key to another Grand Slam win over Garbiñe Muguruza?

 

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Johanna Konta def. Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(4) 2-6 7-6(10-7)

Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne

Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Maybe British No. 1 Johanna Konta exacted a small measure of revenge as she handily beat Ajla Tomljanovic after losing to her at the season opener in Brisbane. It was no easy feat either – Tomljanovic took an early advantage in much the same way she dictated play against Konta in Brisbane.

The Brit found herself working hard and having to deflect another four break points before she pegged the Aussie back, forcing a tie-break and wrestling the lead with a sheer force of will.

This is an even match-up as Tomljanovic took the initiative towards the end of the second set, breaking Konta twice to level the match. Konta could not capitalise on her break point chances in the decider, and the new format tie-break that caught Katie Boulter out came into effect, with the momentum shifting from side to side, before Konta gutsed out the win.

She joked: “I was very conscious to not get excited it I got to seven. I saw Katie yesterday and thought ‘oh no that would be me so just if you get to 7, you HAVEN’T won, so keep going.’ So I was conscious about that and was ‘ok it’s to 10, it’s to 10, it’s to 10’

“It is a bit different, especially in a singles context. I mean I’ve never played a 10-point tiebreak in singles, however we’ve played 10-point tiebreaks because of doubles the last number of years. It’s different, but it’s the same for everyone.”

 

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Johanna Konta v Garbiñe Muguruza [18] | H2H: Konta leads 2-1

Garbine Muguruza in the first round of thw Australian Open 2019, Melbourne

Garbine Muguruza in the first round of thw Australian Open 2019, Melbourne | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Konta has won the past two encounters against Garbiñe Muguruza at a time when the Spaniard had more than established herself as a Slam contender, and Konta’s star was yet to rise. But it was the win at the US Open in 2015 that resonated as Konta had already come through qualies and wins in the main draw, and it was that surge at the end of 2015 that helped the springboard the year later.

Konta remembered: “By the time I played her, I’d already qualified, won a round, and won a $100k before that so I’d already won quite a few matches (laughs).

“I think that was the last time I played her and I think I played her at Eastbourne already, I beat her at Eastbourne that year, but we haven’t played since 2015 so it’s been a few years. She’s a great player, she’s got two Grand Slam titles to her name, she plays big tennis, she competes very well so that will be a good challenge for me.”

 

‘Going rogue’

Perhaps this time a year ago, Konta would have been on the wrong side of the scoreboard, so wins like this go a long way to restoring the dented confidence of the last 18 months or so.

Also, this time last year, she was lamenting the accidental leaving of a punnet of blueberries in a supermarket – so had she had anymore retail disasters?

She told us: “No, no supermarket disasters – not much to report actually. I’m not sticking to the same [routine] – I’ve been really rogue. I haven’t stuck to the same breakfast, I’m changing it up. I haven’t gone to the same restaurant the night before – I went to something else, so you know 2019, new Johanna – Living wild!”

Konta will need her serve working well – it got her out of trouble many times against Tomljanovic and when it is on fire, it gets her the free points she needs. Muguruza can attack and defend, and her previous doubles prowess makes her handy coming into the net with perhaps a little more variety and more importantly finesse than Konta where more delicate pick-ups are needed.

Yet, Muguruza on her day can have as much of a shocker as a blindingly good day, and while Konta did not think she was especially vulnerable, she proved in 2016 that she can trouble some of the best in the game.

It will be tough, but if Konta can get off to a strong start or at least take the first set, it can set her on the way. Heart versus head wins this prediction.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Konta & Muguruza are scheduled on Margaret Court Arena, not before 9pm (10am GMT).

 

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