Faultless Johanna Konta eases through to round three at Australian Open

Published: Thursday 21st January 2016 by The News Editor

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Johanna Konta moved into the third round of a grand slam for only the second time in her career as the British number one hammered China’s Saisai Zheng at the Australian Open.

Konta, fresh from her first-round dismantling of Venus Williams in Rod Laver Arena, found herself back on the peripheral Court 8 in Melbourne Park but it made little difference as the world number 47 cruised through 6-2 6-3.

Only once before has Konta been past the second round of a major tournament, when she reached round four at the US Open last year, and she will now face either Sabine Lisicki, the German 30th seed, or Czech De nisa Allertova .

Both would represent a significant step up from Zheng, ranked 83rd in the world and whose only impact at a grand slam remains reaching the doubles semi-finals here in 2013.

The bottom half of the draw, however, is opening up for Konta who, having usurped Williams, is now enjoying the eighth seed’s path.

With second favourite Simona Halep already out, it means the fancied players left in Konta’s quarter are Karolina Pliskova, Ana Ivanovic and Madison Keys – all top 20 opponents but none unbeatable.

Konta, however, is a stickler for looking beyond the present and the Sydney-born Briton should take credit for such a dominant performance when expectations have started to swell.

This was only the third time in her 14 grand slam matches that Konta has been the expected winner based on rankings, with the other two occasions coming in the less pressured first rounds, but she showed few signs of the nerves that once crippled her at the top level.

Instead, with Fed Cup captain Judy Murray watching on, Konta was assertive when the contest was tight, starting in the third game when she had to withstand several deuces on serve but came through unscathed.

Zheng was competitive from the back but her shots lacked penetration and her serve was weak, allowing Konta consistently to step in and dictate on the half-volley.

Two breaks of serve were enough in each set as Konta outpowered her opponent with 26 winners to nine and confirmed a comfortable victory in an hour and 22 minutes.

“I definitely had a very clear idea that I needed to be as offensive as possible,” Konta said on court afterwards.

“She makes a lot of balls, she is definitely in her comfort zone when the points go longer so I wanted to be able to take charge as much as possible. I was happy that I was able to convert some key moments.”

Published: Thursday 21st January 2016 by The News Editor

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