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Australian Open: Johann Konta, Dan Evans & Kyle Edmund to start 2020 challenge

Johanna Konta was an Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016 and reached the French Open and Wimbledon semi-finals last year
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

British number one Johanna Konta says she is not concerned by a lack of court time before launching her Australian Open campaign on Monday.

Konta, seeded 12th, faces tricky Tunisian Ons Jabeur, while compatriots Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund also play on the opening day in Melbourne.

Konta, 28, has only played one match since September’s US Open because of a knee injury.

“I am in a position to compete – that’s why I am here,” she said.

As well as the British players, there will be a host of star names in action when the first Grand Slam of the new season starts on Monday.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the defending women’s champion, opens up on Rod Laver Arena before American great Serena Williams, Swiss legend Roger Federer, Australia’s world number one Ashleigh Barty and Serbian defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic also play their openers on Melbourne Park’s 15,000-capacity main show court.

Coco Gauff – the 15-year-old who took Wimbledon by storm last year – faces 39-year-old fellow American Venus Williams in the standout match on Margaret Court Arena.

That is a rematch of their first-round meeting at the All England Club, which saw Gauff announce her arrival on the world’s biggest stage by beating the seven-time Grand Slam champion in straight sets.

Monday’s order of play on Rod Laver Arena
Day session starts at 11:00 local time (00:00 GMT, Sunday)
Naomi Osaka (Jpn) [3] v Marie Bouzkova (Cze)
Anastasia Potapova (Rus) v Serena Williams [8] (US)
Steve Johnson (US) v Roger Federer (Swi) [3]
Night session starts at 19:00 local time (08:00 GMT)
Ashleigh Barty (Aus) [1] v Lesia Tsurenko (Ukr)
Jan-Lennard Struff (Ger) v Novak Djokovic (Ser) [2]

‘I’m happy to be back in the swing of things’

Former Australian Open semi-finalist Konta has been managing the knee problem – a tendonitis-like inflammation – since the latter stages of last season.

She did not play again after losing to Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the US Open quarter-finals, making her return in Brisbane last week with a three-set defeat by Czech Barbora Strycova.

Konta meets Jabeur, who is ranked 85th but causes problems for opponents with her variety, last on 1573 Arena at about 19:00 local time (08:00 GMT).

“Having played only one tournament in the past four months, I’m really happy to be back in the swing of things,” Konta, who reached the Melbourne last four in 2016, told BBC Sport.

“Overall, I think practice is going well. I feel I am continuously building and getting better.”

British men’s number one Evans, 29, is seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time after breaking into the world’s top 30.

That means he cannot play one of the big names until the third round – when he is projected to face 16-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic.

Dan Evans had to go through qualifying to reach the Australian Open main draw last year, falling to Roger Federer in the second round

First, Evans must get past American world number 132 Mackenzie McDonald, who he faces on court 14 at 11:00 local time (00:00 GMT, Sunday).

“Being seeded feels no different really, I just have to concentrate on my first match and hopefully get a win there. I can’t do more than that,” Evans said.

“I need to focus on the job in hand.

“It is obviously a great feeling to know you can’t play one of the top guys, but there are plenty of other good players out there who are ready to go and can beat me.

“It is a great achievement to be seeded but the end goal is to be going deep in these tournaments, not turning up as a seed and losing.”

Edmund, who was replaced as the top-ranked Briton by Evans in October, plays Serbia’s 24th seed Dusan Lajovic on court 15 about 13:30 local time (02:30 GMT).

The 25-year-old slid down the rankings during 2019, when he struggled for form and fitness. But he ended the year on a high by being Great Britain’s standout player in their run to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

Edmund is hoping a new coach in Franco Davin, who notably helped his fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro win the 2009 US Open, can spark him to replicate the form that took him to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2018.

“It is going well. It is a different dynamic working with a South American,” said Edmund, who is ranked 69th.

“He’s got experience so is a calm person and a calming influence.”

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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