MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Both British No. 1s Andy Murray and Johanna Konta breezed into the third round on another variable day at the Australian Open.
First in to the latter end of the week was Konta, who had what looked like a deceptively easy run in at the hands of China’s Zheng Saisai, extending her lead over her now to 2-0. While the first set scoreline looked easy, the games were tough, as Konta admitted.
“The whole match, the whole score-line doesn’t reflect the amount of tough battles we had with the games and the long games we had.”
Playing on an outer-court, and very different to blistering start to the temperatures experienced in the first couple of days of the tournament, she joked:
“They have a saying here in Melbourne, that if you don’t like the weather, just wait half an hour. It really is just about dealing with whatever situations arise.”
However despite a small delay while the morning drizzle cleared, once the match started, Konta nailed nerves and some fierce resistance from Zheng as she continues her best run at the Australian Open, having previously never main the main draw here.
Konta remains as grounded as she was when she first started on her run of form after reaching the quarter-final in Eastbourne. Whether it be a bigger court, or a small outside court, she continues to attract some fervent support, and her experiences of clawing her way through the ITF level and the WTA International level events continues to stand her in good stead.
As she points out: “The court’s the same size, the lines are in the same place, and so is the net.”
Up next for her is Denisa Allertova, who dispatched one of the many seeds to exit the women’s draw in just the second round, Sabine Lisicki.
If Konta was solid enough in the face of spirited resistance, Murray was ruthless as he made Sam Groth understand the real pressure of playing in a home slam on one of the most prestigious centre courts in the world.
Groth, bemoaning his own intial tightness, lacked the precision of the serve that is very much the foundation of his game, and Murray’s returning was a masterclass in how to nullify the big-serve threat.
His tireless lobbing left the big Aussie unit stranded mid court more times than we could count, and surely more times that the big guy would care to remember.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for him though, as Murray’s concentration may have just dipped enough to let Groth back into some kind of rhythm as he fashioned a break in the second set to give the Aussies something to cheer about.
It was, however, somewhat short-lived as Murray put the hammer down once more in the third set. Yet ever the perfectionist, Murray was back out on the court, and still feels that there are things he could have done better.
“I could have served better, for sure. I didn’t serve a high percentage of first serves. I could have done that better.
“And from the back of the court, maybe because I wasn’t hitting loads of balls, I wasn’t hitting the ball from the back of the court as well as I did against Zverev. But a lot of things went well, too. The movement was good, anticipation. I felt like I closed the match out well.”
He will face Joao Sousa in the third round having faced him twice in the Australian Open in the past.
Murray and Konta will most likely play their third round matches on Sunday.
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