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Sports

Johanna Konta bundled out of Australian Open by Ons Jabeur


Johanna Konta, delayed by rain on day one, was hurried out of the 2020 Australian Open on day two when the Tunisian world No 78, Ons Jabeur, dominated the British No 1 almost from start to finish to win 6-4 6-2 in just over an hour.

Konta, still troubled by a long-term knee injury, had to save an early break point, and was on the back foot for most of the first set as Jabeur moved impressively into her groundstrokes, hitting deep and wide.

She fashioned her break with style in the 10th game, grabbing set point with a blistering forehand return off a limp second serve, and hitting an almost identical shot from open play. After 37 minutes, there wasn’t much in the contest, statistically – the Tunisian outscoring the 12th seed by five points, with both landing their first serves consistently – but, psychologically, Konta now had to regroup to stay in the first slam of the year.

Behind in the serving cycle, Konta had the added pressure of staying in touch on the scoreboard and desperately needed an early break to take Jabeur out of her comfort zone. Instead she had to cope with dropping her serve in the fourth game. Her situation had gone from tough to grim in the space of a few minutes.

When Jabeur held for 4-1, Konta needed to find something special. She continued to go for winners, but there was desperation rather than conviction in her tennis.

After 22 minutes of a difficult second set, Konta served to stay in the championship. Jabeur charged the net and the lob in reply drifted long. Two points from going out, Konta served up a dolly second serve and Jabeur smashed a brilliant crosscourt return for match point. Konta’s final effort, a cramped backhand on the line, went long and the suffering was done.

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