Tennis

Johanna Konta has been tipped to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Jo Durie backing Johanna Konta for last-eight spot in Australian Open

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Johanna Konta is the Australian Open's dark horse and can become the first British woman to reach a grand slam quarter-final since 1984, according to the record's current holder Jo Durie.

Durie, who ranked a career-high fifth in the world, made the last eight at Wimbledon 32 years ago but no female from Britain has gone as far in a major tournament since.

The wait could be ended by Konta, who breezed into the Australian Open third round on Thursday and can look ahead with confidence given nine of the 16 seeds in her half of the draw are out.

The Sydney-born 24-year-old is also arguably the form player in her section, having ousted Venus Williams in round one to take her list of top-20 scalps to five since the US Open last year.

She plays Czech world number 66 Denisa Allertova on Saturday in round three, when progress would put her one win away from Durie's long-unbeaten feat.

"Jo can definitely do it and I wouldn't be sad at all, it's about time someone beat my record and got to a quarter-final of a slam," Durie told Press Association Sport.

"This is always a weird grand slam because you never quite know where you're at with the top players.

"Parts of the draw always open up at the Australian Open and you get someone surprising coming through to make the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

"If they're in form, they go through that little gap and I think here for Jo, playing like she is at the moment, that's definitely possible, why not?"

Konta, ranked 47th in the world, is already set to climb into the top 40 and beating Allertova could put her in touching distance of the top 30, which would bring seeding at major tournaments.

It marks a remarkable rise for a player ranked 146th at the start of last year and whose results in Melbourne suggest the success is set to last.

"I think you could see even last year it wasn't a one-off," Durie said.

"She has the mental side to complement her tennis now, she's very consistent, she does believe so much more in herself and you can see it clearly on court."

Konta faced Allertova in the French Open first round eight months ago, when she lost the longest women's tie-break in the history of grand slams 19-17 and the contest 7-6 4-6 6-2.

"The next match is going to be incredibly tough because I had a very, very tough match against her in the French Open," Konta said.

Allertova is an unfancied opponent but dangerous, having enjoyed a similar, albeit less dramatic, advance up the rankings, climbing into the top 100 for the first time in her career last year.

She also, like Konta, beat world number two Simona Halep in September.

"We have shown things change very quick in tennis," Allertova said.

"Konta has done so well since I last played her and has raced up the rankings, so now she is above me. I am not that surprised, she played well in the French Open and was such a good player.

"I feel amazing as well right now because I am through to the third round and I have never played third round of a grand slam before. I will try to play my best tennis."

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