Australian Open 2014: Heather Watson and Johanna Konta progress in qualifying but Dan Evans' game disintegrates
Thursday 09 January 2014
Heather Watson and Johanna Konta posted victories in Australian Open qualifying, but there was disappointment for fellow British player Dan Evans.
Watson overcame nerves to defeat Australian Arina Rodionova 6-4, 6-3 in the first round, while Konta was particularly impressive in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Grace Min of the United States.
Evans was the only British man to win his first-round match in qualifying on Wednesday and hopes were high that he could repeat his US Open heroics, which saw him go all the way to the third round of the main draw. But the 23-year-old was beaten 6-4, 6-1 in his second preliminary match by Hungary's Marton Fucsovics, the 2010 Wimbledon boys' champion.
Fucsovics is 33 places behind 149th-ranked Evans and had only won a single grand slam qualifying match prior to arriving in Melbourne but he was rock solid.
Evans, in contrast, was well below his best, losing eight of the last nine games and receiving a warning for swearing.
Watson is playing in grand slam qualifying for the first time in 18 months after last year was ruined by glandular fever and she dropped out of the top 100. The 21-year-old will next meet France's Stephanie Foretz Gacon, who she beat at the French Open in 2011, and needs two more wins to reach the main draw.
Watson, who reached the third round in the main draw last year, said: "I was very nervous. I feel like in the middle I loosened up but my energy really dropped at the end because I think all the nervous energy had worn me out. But I was able to close it out. I played quite well, I definitely can play better, and I think I'll play a lot freer in my next match.
"I don't know why I was so nervous, it's a while since I played in qualifying and I expect myself to do well and go far. I really like the tournament and play well on these courts. I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself."
Konta, who plays Ukraine's Olga Savchuk in round two, is ranked seven places above Watson and narrowly missed out on direct entry to the main draw in Melbourne.
Meanwhile the British No 4 Tara Moore, 21, lost 6-0, 7-5 to Japan's Erika Sema.
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