Konta reigns Down Un­der

Ten­nis: Bri­tish num­ber one cruises to Syd­ney win as Evans­makes fi­nal

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - Sport -

Johanna Konta de­feated Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska to win the Apia In­ter­na­tional ti­tle in Syd­ney and boost hopes that a big­ger tro­phy could fol­low in two weeks.

The Bri­tish num­ber one’s stel­lar per­for­mance in a 6-4, 6-2 vic­tory es­tab­lished her firmly as one of the favourites for the Aus­tralian Open, which starts on Mon­day.

Bri­tain could yet boast both the women’s and men’s cham­pi­ons in Syd­ney, with­DanE­vans­de­feat­ing An­drey Kuznetsov to reach his first ATP Tour fi­nal, while Scot Jamie Mur­ray is in the dou­bles fi­nal.

Konta, play­ing in the city of her birth, did not drop a set all week as she marched through a high-class field.

She had never pre­vi­ously beaten world­num­berthree Rad­wan­ska but in their third meet­ing Konta sim­ply over­pow­ered the wily Pole, hit­ting 32 win­ners.

If any­thing, it was Rad­wan­ska who was flat­tered by the score­line, and she said af­ter­wards: “I can’t re­mem­ber play­ing some­one this con­sis­tent and at that level.”

Konta an­nounced her­self as a po­ten­tial threat at the lat­ter stages of grand slams 12 months ago with a sur­prise run to the semi­fi­nals in Melbourne.

A year later, she heads to the year’s first grand slam as a top-10 player and now a two-time win­ner on the WTA Tour af­ter adding to her maiden ti­tle in Stan­ford last sum­mer.

The 25-year-old would be even shorter odds to tri­umph at the Aus­tralian but for a tough drawthat could see her fac­ing Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, Do­minika Cibulkova, Karolina Pliskova and Ser­ena Wil­liams be­fore the fi­nal.

Konta, play­ing in just her se­cond tour­na­ment un­der the guid­ance of new coach Wim Fis­sette, said she felt wiser and more re­silient than 12 months ago.

Among the crowd for the fi­nal were sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing her sis­ter, nieces and neph­ews, and she said win­ning in Syd­ney was spe­cial.

Konta said: “I’m re­ally pleased with the amount of matches I’ve been able to play. I take it as a nice re­ward for all the hard work.”

A day af­ter claim­ing his first win against a top-10 player, when he knocked out Do­minic Thiem, Evans again showed the im­mense tal­ent he pos­sesses with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 vic­tory against Rus­sian Kuznetsov.

It is a change in at­ti­tude that has turned the Birm­ing­ham player’s ca­reer around and he main­tained his fo­cus su­perbly af­ter Kuznetsov fought back to level the match.

Evans, who is al­ready guar­an­teed to climb to a new ca­reer-high rank­ing just out­side the top 50, will play Lux­em­bourg’s Gilles Muller in the fi­nal.

He said: “It was a good match. I feel pretty tired but I might not get this op­por­tu­nity in a fi­nal for a while. It’s great that Jowon. Hope­fully Jamie wins and hope­fully I do, too.” Pe­tra Kvi­tova is mak­ing good progress in her re­cov­ery from ca­reerthreat­en­ing hand in­juries.

The two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion was at­tacked in her home by an in­truder last month and suf­fered dam­age to ten­dons and nerves in her dom­i­nant left hand.

Ac­com­pa­nied by a pic­ture of her smil­ing in a cof­fee shop, Kvi­tova posted on In­sta­gram: “Hello ev­ery­one, I wanted to let youknowa lit­tle bit of good news.

“I fi­nally had all the stitches re­moved from my hand this week, which

“I’m work­ing very hard on my re­hab and stay­ing pos­i­tive”

means it is heal­ing well af­ter the op­er­a­tion.

“I am happy it is just me and my hand now. I’m work­ing very hard on my re­hab and stay­ing pos­i­tive as al­ways.”

Kv i t o v a , who has reached the semi-fi­nals of the Aus­tralian Open and French Open but only the quar­ter-fi­nals at the US Open, needed surgery last­ing nearly four hours fol­low­ing the at­tack at her apart­ment in the Czech town of Proste­jov on De­cem­ber 20.

The pop­u­lar 26-year-old, who took home a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics last sum­mer, was told by her sur­geon she would not be able to hold a racket for three months af­ter the op­er­a­tion, with a re­turn to the court es­ti­mated an­other three months af­ter that.

SEALED WITH A KISS: Johanna Konta cel­e­brates with the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the Apia In­ter­na­tional in Syd­ney yes­ter­day

Fi­nal say: Dan Evans plays to­day

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