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Australian Open: Johanna Konta & Kyle Edmund lose in first round


Johanna Konta was a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in 2016 and had never lost before the second round
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 made her earliest exit from the Australian Open by losing to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the first round.

Konta, seeded 12th, was beaten 6-4 6-2 by the tricky world number 78 at Melbourne Park.

The 28-year-old was playing only her second match in almost five months because of a knee injury.

Compatriot Kyle Edmund was also knocked out with a 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) loss to Serbia’s 24th seed Dusan Lajovic.

Konta struggled to settle as Jabeur knocked out Britain’s highest-ranked player.

“It’s important to recognise the season is long,” Konta told BBC Sport.

“I’m not going to rush or sprint towards suddenly packing it all in. Things will come with time and putting the right work in.”

Four other Britons play later on Tuesday, which features a packed schedule with 96 first-round matches needing to be completed after the opening day was washed out by heavy rain.

Katie Boulter, Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Cameron Norrie should also play as planned with a much-improved weather forecast.

Rusty Konta unpicked by Jabeur

Konta, a 2016 semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, went into this year’s opening Grand Slam having played only one match since September’s US Open.

A tendonitis-like inflammation of the knee, which she suffered in the latter stages of last season, has had to be carefully managed.

Although she did not look troubled by the problem against Jabeur, Konta did show signs of rust and was unable to take her game to the levels that took her to the French Open semi-finals, along with the Wimbledon and US Open quarter-finals, last year.

Konta, who said afterwards she was “pleased” with how her knee felt, hit 19 unforced errors, while Jabeur also punished her with 19 winners.

The Briton’s serve came under immediate pressure from Jabeur, who is able to unsettle opponents with her variety, and she had to save a break point in the opening game.

After steadying herself, an erratic game where she struggled on her first serve enabled Jabeur to strike and take the opening set.

Konta, backed by a healthy number of British fans, came out for the second set with renewed purpose, playing more aggressively to break in the opening game.

However, she was unable to back that up with a hold and from that point Jabeur took control to win in just one hour and two minutes.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Johanna Konta looked a long way off the pace in what was only her second match since 4 September.

She could have played in Adelaide last week, but took the decision to build up the load on her troublesome knee more gradually.

In fact, listening to her post match, it is clear she was not 100% sure she would definitely play in Melbourne when she boarded the plane to Australia.

Konta will now have to be patient. A first-round exit here, coupled with her decision to skip Fed Cup in 2020, means the earliest she could return to action would be in St Petersburg in three weeks’ time.

However, it may be too late to get a spot in the draw, even if she wants one, with Konta’s next scheduled tournament not starting in Dubai until 17 February.

As for Jabeur, she played with admirable control – like a higher-ranked player dealing efficiently with a tricky opponent.



Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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