Australian Open: impressive Konta advances despite ‘blueberry debacle’

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta
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Johanna Konta eased into the second round of the Australian Open - but is still lamenting her forgotten blueberries (writes Eleanor Crooks).

The ninth seed has a fine record at Melbourne Park having reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals the last two years and is one of a whole raft of contenders for the women’s title.

She was far too good for 90th-ranked American Madison Brengle, hitting 37 winners and eight aces in a 6-3 6-1 victory that lasted only an hour and six minutes.

Konta, though, is still haunted by her shopping failure, when she went out to buy blueberries only to leave them behind.

“Oh, my goodness, I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “Honestly. I messaged everybody. Literally everybody on my team. Has this happened to anyone else?

“I went to the supermarket to buy blueberries. I only bought blueberries, two punnets. I left two punnets of blueberries there. It’s five dollars I won’t get back. It’s actually more the betrayal in my own mind I feel so upset about. I was so sad.

“Clearly I’m not over the blueberry debacle. No, I’m happy to come through today and I’m just looking forward to playing again on Thursday. I now need to go again to buy blueberries.”

Fortunately Konta was a lot more focused on Hisense Arena and set about overpowering Brengle, the last player to beat Serena Williams in Auckland last January, whose powder puff serve in particular took a battering.

The British number one admitted on the eve of the tournament that, alongside new coach Michael Joyce, she is still working through the anxiety issues that developed during a five-match losing run to end last season.

There were signs of tension from Konta in a number of wild errors in the first set but Brengle’s serve was under constant pressure and, aside from a poor game when she served for it at 5-2, Konta’s serve was working very nicely.

The pair are good friends and share a love of books but Konta grew increasingly ruthless and raced through the second set to set up a second-round clash with another American, 123rd-ranked lucky loser Bernarda Pera.

“I was actually really enjoying being out there,” said Konta.

“It was a nice day. It was sunny. It was quite a full stadium. I kind of tried to absorb the atmosphere a little bit.

“I was really excited to play. I was really looking forward to playing her. She brings different sorts of difficulties. I thought it was a great first round for me to fight through and battle through and stay strong in the way I wanted to play out there. And I feel I did that.”

Konta will be strongly fancied to beat Pera next up, and the biggest obstacle could be the weather, with a forecast heat wave set to send temperatures soaring into the high 30s.

Konta, though, who spent her formative years in Australia, is confident she will not let conditions affect her.

She said: “I think I take it in my stride. I know it’s a part of it. Everyone who comes here know that it’s going to happen at one point or another.