Australian Open 2017: Johanna Konta beats Kirsten Flipkens

Johanna Konta

Australian Open 2017
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne Dates: 16-29 Jan
Coverage: Daily live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website; TV highlights on BBC Two and online from 21 January.

British number one Johanna Konta started her Australian Open campaign with an assured 7-5 6-2 first-round win over Kirsten Flipkens in Melbourne.

Ninth-seeded Konta, who won last week’s tournament in Sydney, coped with heat rising to 35C before beating the Belgian in 96 minutes.

Konta, 25, will face Naomi Osaka, 19, in the second round after the Japanese beat Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand.

Fellow Britons Heather Watson, Naomi Broady and Kyle Edmund play later.

They will be seeking to join Konta, Andy Murray and Dan Evans in reaching the second round.

Last year Konta became the first British woman to reach an Australian Open semi-final since Sue Barker in 1977, and the first to reach the last four at any Grand Slam since Jo Durie at the 1983 US Open.

Flipkens, ranked 70 in the world, began well but Konta, considered a serious contender to win her first Grand Slam title, started to play better.

She was serving for the opening set at 5-4 but Flipkens put the Briton’s serve under pressure and broke back after a 10-minute game which saw both players miss several good chances.

Konta, named the WTA’s most improved player of 2016, responded by breaking Flipkens again and then held her serve to love to take the opening set after 51 minutes.

The Briton dominated the second set, securing two breaks of serve, and wrapped up victory in straightforward fashion.

“It was incredibly tricky. She has the kind of game that can trouble any player,” said Konta.

“I tried to play myself in to the match and I’m happy to be through. A lot has happened in the last year and I’m just enjoying playing and trying to get better every day.”

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