Australian Open: Johanna Konta plays down shock exit

Doug Mendoza
January 19, 2018

Although Konta saved an additional point, she was left packing when she miscued with an overhead smash.

It was one of several freakish moments in a worrying display by the British No 1.

Konta analyzed and said, "I think she played very inspired and I didn't quite do as much as I wanted". I battled, and I competed.

However, on a steaming-hot morning with temperatures well into the nineties it became clear early on that she can properly play.

Speaking after the defeat, Konta said: "It's a bit frustrating but I'm still taking good stuff from this. I play every event to be there till the end, so I definitely don't want to be going home this early".

After previously reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2016, big things were expected of the Sydney-born Briton.

Playing against an opponent with nothing to lose is never easy, but Konta made very hard work of it against Pera, who had lost in the final round of qualifying only to be given a reprieve.

She now spends a lot of time training in Croatia with her childhood coach, Lovro Roncevic.

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Konta started nervously, having to save a break point in the opening game.

Konta got ahead for 2-0 in the second thanks to two consecutive double faults, but then handed the advantage straight back.

In total, Pera smashed 29 winners past the Konta racquet and the only trouble she had came when she tried to close the match out.

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 nearly from the start.

Konta also appeared to have no tactical answer to what was going on.

But Konta, usually so solid, was still missing routine groundstrokes and she was immediately broken again.

Men's ninth seed Wawrinka, playing only his second match since knee surgery, fell in three sets to American Tennys Sandgren.

Pera, though, continued to put huge pressure on Konta's serve - she mustered up 15 break points in the second stanza - and broke back before racing to a 5-3 lead. Pera's blistering returns saw her break the Brit to love before confidently serving for the set.

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