Johanna Konta opened her week at the Apia International Sydney with a straightforward 6-3 6-4 win over World number 184 Arina Rodionova in 1 hour and 30 minutes, as she looks to step up her preparation for next weeks Australian Open.
Konta claims first set
Konta was coming into this match after a surprise defeat to Katerina Siniakova in the semifinals of the Shenzhen tournament last week. The British number one opened up the set by serving first. Rodionova looked like she may have an opportunity to break at 15-30 but easy points set up by big first serves gave Konta a hold to 30 to open up. Rodionova held to love on her first service game with some aggressive groundstrokes which were clipping the lines, and Konta held to 15 as she looked to come to the net and finish points early which was proving to be effective.
Two more holds of serve were exchanged as Rodionova held to 15 after some unforced errors from Konta and Konta held to 30 in the next game. The World number 10 made the first move of the match in the sixth game, as she brought the game back to deuce after Rodionova led 40-15. An error of judgment led to a game point for Rodionova but Konta again brought it back to deuce, and on the third deuce she brought up the first break point of the match, which she duly took to lead 4-2. Konta missed an easy overhead to close out the seventh game but held after the first deuce, and Rodionova held to love to set up the opportunity for Konta to serve for the set. Rodionova hit three clean winners to set up a break point opportunity at 30-40 which was saved. A fine backhand winner set up another break point chance for Rodionova and but Konta again saved, and duly brought up a set point which she took at the first opportunity to close out the set 6-3.
Konta overcomes wobble to close out match
Rodionova was serving first in the second set but had the worst possible start, with Konta opening the set with a break to 15, which she duly backed up with a comfortable hold to 15. Rodionova then started the third game with a double fault which led to 0-30, but the Australian got the game back to 40-30. Konta forced deuce and brought up a break point on the first deuce, which was taken after Rodionova double faulted. Konta threw in her own double fault, in a match where she served eight double faults to four aces, to help Rodionova bring up two break back points at 15-40. These were both saved with good winners from Konta but Rodionova claimed another break point on the first deuce and took it for her first break of the match and a lifeline at 1-3. Rodionova served another Double fault which led to three more break point opportunities for Konta and she only needed the first one to take a 4-1 lead which she backed up with a hold to 30 for 5-1.
Rodionova held to stay in the match after some scrappy errors by Konta. The eighth game of the second set was a long one which started with Konta bringing up two match points at 40-15. She blew the first one with a wild backhand error and the second one went with a poor long backhand. Konta served a double fault for a break point which was saved after a Rodionova miss after a good rally between the two players. Rodionova brought up another break point but missed the return, but on the third deuce a sharp Forehand down the line brought up another break point and Konta served a double fault to make it 3-5. Rodionova then held to 15 after Konta was struggling and making a few unforced errors. Konta would again try to serve it out, and got to 30-0 after two good rallies and a volley at the net. The game got back to 30-30 after two Konta errors but Rodionova missed the return to bring up a third match point. Konta took this one to close out the match 6-3 6-4.
Konta will play another Australian, Daria Gavrilova, in the next round as she looks to have a good week before the Australian Open, where she reached the semi-finals last year. Arina Rodionova will be looking forward to Melbourne Park too, as she has been granted a wild card into the event.