Another high seed has had to swallow the bitter pill of an early exit from the Australian Open, as top-ranked British player Johanna Konta was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Konta, the 12th seed for the Australian Open, said she was ‘in a state of shock’ after ending her first-round match against Kaja Juvan due to an abdominal strain she sustain in the first set.
‘SHATTERING’: Aus Open rocked by Aussie icon's tragic death
Making matters worse for the British star was the fact she was comfortably leading, having won the first set 6-4 despite requiring a medical time-out, and holding a 2-0 second set advantage before deciding she couldn’t continue.
“I don’t really know what to make of it yet,” Konta said after the game.
“Because it’s happened so recently I feel in a bit of state of shock, almost like having an out-of-body experience.
“I have very little experience with acute injuries on court and having to withdraw.”
Serving for the first set vs Kaja Juvan, Johanna Konta misses a smash at 5-4, 15-0, goes to her chair and calls the trainer.
They've headed off court for an MTO. 'I need to get this taken care of, otherwise I can't play,' Konta said. pic.twitter.com/ROffXWHv2Y
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 9, 2021
Jo Konta the latest to retire on a day when the results have reflected the highly unusual build-up to this Grand Slam. Not hearing much talk of asterisks when it comes to this title, which was all the rage before the US Open.
— Mike Dickson (@Mike_Dickson_DM) February 9, 2021
The injury meant Konta was the only player to retire from the first round of the women’s singles bracket.
She had called for the trainer after missing a smash while leading 5-4 in the first set, later saying it had been a long time since she’d had to face an injury.
“I pulled my ab, and that made it difficult for me to serve,” Konta said.
“So that’s why I had to retire, basically ... I felt it in my second service game of the first set, so then I was just conscious of trying to adapt while using my legs more on my serve.
“I was just starting to be aware of it, and then my second-last service game of the first set - that’s when it started to get quite painful, and I then tried to just manage it the best I could.
“But then in my last service game of the first set, I guess that’s when I needed to intervene with the physios to try and offload it in any way with tape and things like that.”
Barty, Gavrilova to cast friendship aside
The perfectionist in Ash Barty yearns for more - and that could spell huge trouble for Daria Gavrilova's Australian Open hopes.
Barty and Gavrilova - or Ash and Dash - go head to head in a blockbuster all-Australian second-round showdown at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
There'll be no room for sentiment, with friendships placed on hold as the pair fight for a place in the last 32 of their home grand slam.
Not even a ruthless 6-0 6-0 first-round victory over Danka Kovinic was enough to satisfy Barty.
On a mission to end Australia's 43-year women's title drought in Melbourne, the world No.1 says "everything" in her game can improve entering her fifth career meeting with Gavrilova.
"I want to challenge myself to be the complete player," Barty said.
"I want to challenge myself to grow and develop every single day, both as a human and as a tennis player.
"So regardless of what happens on any given night, we wake up the next day and go back to work and try and get better again."
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