Four British women have qualified for the first grand slam of the year which gets-underway in Melbourne today.
Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Katie Boulter have qualified automatically for the tournament, whilst Harriett Dart made it through qualifying last week and will face world number 83 Misaki Doi in the first round tomorrow.
Konta, who has struggled with a knee injury in recent times, has had far from ideal preparation leading into this year’s competition. After losing in the first round at the Brisbane International to Barbora Strycova, Konta withdrew from the Adelaide International the following week, as a precautionary measure. Despite her fitness struggles, the 28-year-old is ranked as the 12th seed and is still considered Britain’s best chance of silverware this year.
The Sydney born star reached the semi-final of the tournament in 2016 and was due to face Ons Jabeur in opening round today, although heavy-rain has prevented the match getting underway. If Konta comes through the opening three-rounds, she could face the bookies favourite Serena Williams in round four.
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After reaching the semi-final of the Hobart International, Heather Watson only arrived in Melbourne on Saturday. Her quarter-final win against world-number 17 Elise Mertens was her best for over two-years and Watson will hope this recent form translates into this week where she will face Kristyna Pliskova in the first round.
Katie Boulter also suffered from an injury much of last season but qualifies for this year’s tournament on the back of a protected ranking. Boulter was eliminated in the first round of the Adelaide International by Bernarda Pera this year but did reach the second round in Melbourne in 2019. She does, however, face tough competition in Elina Svitolina, who reached two-grand slam finals last year and is currently ranked as the world number five.
The final Brit to qualify is Harriet Dart, who progressed through qualifying unscathed, seeing off 32-year-old Giulia Gatto-Monticone in straight sets last Friday. Dart has knocked out in the first round at Melbourne a year ago and will be hoping to fare better this time around.
All four women are due to be in action tomorrow, weather permitting.