JOHANNA KONTA is blissful to be in comparison with Maria Sharapova — in a technique at the very least.
On the day Sharapova made a profitable return to Melbourne two years after failing a medicine take a look at right here, Konta cruised into the second spherical with a 6-Three 6-1 demolition of Madison Brengle.
The British No 1’s new coach, Michael Joyce, labored with Sharapova from 2004 to 2011 and has stated Konta’s focus and dedication remind him of the Russian.
Konta, 26, stated: “That’s a large praise.
“He clearly holds Maria in excessive regard, the competitor that she is and the way in which she’s capable of struggle by way of matches.
“I believe that’s one thing I can at all times look as much as, the way in which she competes. I believe that’s considered one of her largest property.
“I don’t essentially evaluate myself to anyone and I positively solely wish to be the most effective model of myself.
“But when I could be grouped collectively along with her on that side I believe that’s solely a constructive factor for my very own competitiveness.”
Not that Konta wanted a lot of that in her one-sided win over Brengle.
The pair are good pals and swap ebook suggestions.
However Konta dictated the plot of the match, lacking rather a lot due to eagerness then touchdown sufficient instances to win simply in 66 minutes.
Konta had extra hassle buying within the build-up to the match, forsaking the 2 punnets of blueberries she had simply purchased within the grocery store.
She added: “It’s 5 I gained’t get again. It’s truly extra the betrayal in my very own thoughts I really feel so upset about. I used to be so unhappy.
“I solely went to purchase blueberries. I don’t know the place my thoughts was.”
However Konta tweeted later: “Replace: I’ve now managed to purchase blueberries AND deliver them again. #profitable.”
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Joking aside, Konta will need to have her wits about her and to show Sharapova-style competitiveness to keep up her fine record at the Australian Open.
But she will be a hot favourite on Thursday, when temperatures are forecast to rise to the high 30s, to be beat world No 123 Bernarda Pera, who only reached the main draw as a lucky loser.
Konta will be joined by Sharapova who had little trouble beating Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-4 and insisted she was unfazed by her return to a place which had left such a stain on her career.
Five-time Slam winner Sharapova, 30, said: “It’s not the way I look at things. I felt like I got a lot of things out of the way last year.
“There was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam, and just different feelings. But it felt pretty routine, just really happy to be back.”
Showing plenty of fight is routine for Heather Watson, but the British No 2 missed chances to force a deciding set against Yulia Putintseva before losing 7-5 7-6.
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So the only Brit left in the women’s draw is Konta, fuelled by Sharapova-like spirit and, at last, blueberries.
Watson, who led 3-0 and 4-1 in the second set and had a set point in the tie-break, said: “I don’t feel I played very well or very smart. I kept doing the same thing.”