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Konta and Edmund stumble at first hurdle in Melbourne

Konta was beaten by Ons Jabeur while Edmund went down to 24th seed Dusan Lajovic.

Konta and Edmund stumble at first hurdle in Melbourne

Former semi-finalists Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund have both been eliminated from the Australian Open in the first round.

It was an inauspicious start to a day where six British players were scheduled to be in action at Melbourne Park, hoping to join Dan Evans in the second round.

Konta, who reached the semi-finals four years ago, came into the tournament as the 12th seed but with expectations tempered by the fact she had only played one match since a quarter-final exit at the US Open in early September.

A knee injury curtailed her season and Konta revealed last month that she might not even make the trip Down Under.

She will be heading home a lot sooner than she would have hoped after going down 6-4 6-2 to Tunisian world number 78 Ons Jabeur, who has the type of unpredictable game that even a match-tight Konta finds hard to deal with.

The 28-year-old had always made at least the second round in four previous appearances in the main draw at Melbourne Park, while this is the first time since a second-round loss to Garbine Muguruza here 12 months ago that she has not reached at least the quarter-finals of a slam.

Konta took solace in the fact her knee is much improved and felt she paid for a lack of matches.

She said: “It’s an unfortunate thing. It’s part of the sport and it’s part of also the way I play, and it’s something that will come with time and matches.

“I think ultimately the main thing was to start playing again, and I am. And how I physically felt out there is obviously a massive tick for me compared to where I was in September of last year.

“I think giving myself that time to find a level that I want to play is going to be important. And I also played a very good opponent. So it’s not all on my racket.

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta suffered a 6-4 6-2 defeat to Tunisian world number 78 Ons Jabeur (Dita Alangkara/AP)

“I knew that by taking a decision to come play here, I was opening myself up to potentially it not going well or for it to be difficult.”

Konta must now decide where to play next, and she may seek a wild card into the St Petersburg Trophy, which begins two days after Britain’s Fed Cup play-off against Slovakia.

The British number one said she would not reconsider her decision to miss the tie in Bratislava on February 7-8.

Edmund had a tough draw against in-form 24th seed Dusan Lajovic but had led 5-2 when the rain arrived on Monday.

Lajovic won three straight games on the resumption though, and took the opening set on a tie-break to the delight of his noisy Serbian fans.

The match continued to be close but any glimmers for Edmund were snuffed out by Lajovic, who completed the victory with a running forehand winner.

Edmund has now lost in the first round on both his visits to Melbourne Park since making the last four in 2018.

The British number three said: “Ultimately it’s disappointing because I’m out of the tournament. From his point of view, I thought he was playing pretty well, at a high level, consistently.

Kyle Edmund
Kyle Edmund was knocked out on Tuesday (Victoria Jones/PA)

“Normally, in the past, he’s given away a little bit more cheap points. But today he was good. And I just found that he was being a bit more proactive than me. I didn’t come out sharp enough.”

Edmund will look to push his ranking up from its current mark of 65 back into the top 50 and beyond, with few ranking points to defend after his disappointing 2019.

He said: “I feel like I am playing better than I was this time last year. And even the way I finished at the end of the year, I was in a good place.

“I want to be playing better and winning more matches. They are not coming at the minute. I have to keep going. I don’t think I am too far away. I believe that I can do it again.”

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