Australian Open: Johanna Konta retires, Cameron Norrie beats Dan Evans, Heather Watson wins

2 weeks ago
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konta
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 8-21 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 in “shock” after an abdominal injury forced her to retire from her Australian Open first-round match.

The 13th seed had won the first set 6-4 and left the court for treatment before falling 2-0 behind in the second and conceding to Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan.

“I pulled my ab and that made it difficult for me to serve,” Konta said.

Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie produced an impressive performance to win an all-British encounter against Dan Evans.

Evans, the 30th seed, struggled physically in a 6-4 4-6 6-4 7-5 defeat as Norrie reached the second round at Melbourne Park for the first time.

Only Heather Watson is left in the women’s singles after 20-year-old Francesca Jones lost on her Grand Slam main-draw debut.

After making a promising start against American opponent Shelby Rogers, Jones lost 6-4 6-1 to a player ranked almost 200 places higher.

What happened to Konta?

Based on ranking, Konta was Britain’s best chance of success in the singles at the opening Grand Slam of the 2021 season and there was shock when she could not carry on against Juvan.

A sympathetic round of applause from the crowd greeted the announcement from the umpire, before an emotional-looking Konta hid her face under a towel.

The 29-year-old had gone off court in the first set for medical treatment, re-appearing shortly afterwards to serve out the opener.

But she needed more attention from the doctor before the start of the second, having her abdominal area taped in a bid to manage the pain and more treatment on her hip.

“I felt the ab injury in my second service game of the first set and I was conscious of trying to adapt and using my legs more on my serve,” Konta said.

“I was starting to be aware of it and in the second-to-last service game of first set it got quite painful.

“I don’t have answers to why this happened. I haven’t had an ab issue in a very long time.

“I feel like I’m in a bit of shock.”

Norrie wins the real ‘Battle of the Brits’

Cameron Norrie

While Evans is the British men’s number one, the 30-year-old had claimed he was the underdog having lost to Norrie in the Battle of the Brits exhibition event shortly before Christmas.

That appeared to be little more than mind games, with Evans having a stronger pedigree at the elite level than his rival and recent practice partner.

But Norrie, ranked 69th, produced the better level throughout as Evans looked to tire after a hectic week where he won his first ATP title.

Evans won five matches last week to claim the Murray River Open trophy but remained calm about his achievement afterwards, preferring to focus on performing well at the Grand Slam.

However, he said those exertions had made him “flat mentally” against Norrie and led to a sluggish start from which he failed to recover.

“Granted, I won last week but it doesn’t feel that good now,” said Evans, who reached a career-high ranking of 26 this week.

“It is bittersweet really, I want to do well in Grand Slams and, with due respect to that warm-up tournament, no-one will remember I won that in three weeks’ time.”

Evans described drawing another Briton as “very unfortunate” and, for him, so it proved.

Solitary break of serves decided the opening three sets before Norrie, who stayed cool-headed with his opponent more animated, fought back from a 5-3 deficit in the fourth to secure victory.

‘I was really worried if I was able to play’ – Watson on injury concerns

British number two Watson made a winning start at Melbourne Park despite being “worried” a leg spasm would rule her out of Tuesday’s first-round match.

The 26-year-old was one of 72 players who underwent a ‘hard’ 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia, which left them unable to train outdoors for two weeks.

“I didn’t feel as fit as usual, which is no surprise,” said Watson, who plays 21st seed Anett Kontaveit in round two.

“I’m taking care of my body carefully because four days ago my left leg went into spasm and I couldn’t finish practising.

“I was really worried about if I was going to be able to play my first round here.”

Heather Watson

Watson, ranked 60 in the world, had beaten Pliskova in the opening round of last year’s Australian Open.

The Briton, who had lost her sole warm-up match, hit 37 winners and overturned a 3-1 deficit in the second set to force a tie-break, before converting her first match point.

She previously said there was “nothing fun or easy” about the 14-day quarantine.

Players were provided with workout equipment, with Watson sharing videos of herself jokingly doing a hotel room triathlonexternal-link during her isolation.

Watson has never gone beyond the third round at the Australian Open.

Jones upset by line call but proud of Slam experience

Francesca Jones returns a ball in her Australian Open first round match

Jones, ranked 245th in the world, was born with a rare genetic condition and has defied the odds to play professionally.

She fought back from an early break down to hold serve at 5-4 in the first set, only for 57th-ranked Rogers to crucially break again to win the opener.

In the second game of the second set when she served at 0-30, Jones says a return from Rogers was “clearly out” but was called in by the electronic line system.

“It was certainly questionable, extremely questionable,” she said.

“Massive, massive, massive momentum change at that point, but I’m not going to sit here and say one point was an excuse of the whole match.”

On what she will take away from her first Grand Slam experience, she added: “Overall I have proved that I can compete at this level.

“I think now it’s about accumulating as many matches as possible over the next 12 months against players such as Shelby or even of a higher level.

“I think there are a lot of positives.”

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