Women’s Tennis: Dart and Watson both make it through in three sets, but Konta and Boulter’s tournament is over

Two British women have progressed to the second round of the Australian Open, but two more have fallen at the first hurdle. 

Johanna Konta, who led Britain’s chances leading into the tournament, was the first to be eliminated after losing comprehensively in straight sets to world number 78 Ons Jabeur. 

Despite braking the Tunisian early in the second set, the British number one visibly struggled for most of the match, playing in only her second game since she returned from a knee injury.

Konta remained positive however, stressing that “It’s important to recognise that the season is long.”

“I’m not going to rush or sprint towards suddenly packing it all in. Things will come with time and putting the right work in.”

Elsewhere, Katie Boulter also suffered defeat on her return to Grand Slam tennis but did show promising signs against the world number 5 Elina Svitolina. 

The Brit racked up more winners than her opponent, 27 in total, but ultimately lost in straight sets as Svitolina showed more composure at key times in the match.

Boulter said of her performance “I think I played some really good points but I also gave a lot away, which for me is quite disappointing because I expect better of myself. But it was a good match, I have to take the positives from it.”

Despite being the last Brit to qualify for Melbourne this year, Harriett Dart became the first to progress on Tuesday when she beat Japan’s Misaki Doi in three sets.

Having been thrashed 6-0 6-0 by Maria Sharapova on her Melbourne debut last year, this win was a confidence booster for Dart who lost eight games in a row at one point, but rallied to take the match the distance and eventually prevail in a tie-break. 

She will face the number four seed Simona Halep in the next round in the Rod Laver Arena.

There was also a win this morning for Heather Watson, who recovered from a set down to beat Kristyna Pliskova 4-6 6-3 6-1.

Watson has returned to form recently, reaching the semi-final of the Hobart International in preparation for this tournament.

She will meet the Belgian Elise Mertens in round two, having beaten her in the quarter-finals of Hobart less than a week ago.

Both Dart and Watson play tomorrow and will represent Britain’s only remaining chances in the competition for men and women.

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