Pliskova, Konta win 1st-round matches at Australian Open

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 17, 2017 10:38 AM
Pliskova, Konta win 1st-round matches at Australian Open
Britain's Johanna Konta makes a forehand return to Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer

 

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta had their Grand Slam breakthroughs last year, and both prepared for the season's first major with title runs in Australia.

They both won their first-round matches at the Australian Open in straight sets on Tuesday, and are growing in confidence.

U.S. Open finalist Pliskova following her title win at the Brisbane International with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo to get day two under way on Rod Laver Arena.

The fifth-seeded Pliskova, who beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals before losing the final to Angelique Kerber, has never advanced past the third round at Melbourne Park — losing at that stage in the last two years to Ekaterina Makarova.

Pliskova is feeling more confident this time.

"I feel good on the court, especially when I win my first title in the first week of the year," Pliskova said. "So I'm ready for the tournament."

Konta, who won the Sydney International title last week, had a tougher time in beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.

"It was incredibly tricky. She has the kind of game that can make any player feel uncomfortable out there," Konta said. "I definitely love playing here. It's a dream. A lot has happened in the last year, but I'm just enjoying playing and getting better each day."

Ninth-seeded Konta was a surprise semifinalist in her debut at the Australian Open last year, starting with a first-round win over Venus Williams and sparking a strong 2016 season which ended with her in the top 10.

Serena Williams was opening her bid for a record 23rd Grand Slam title with a first-round match against Belinda Bencic in the second match on Rod Laver Arena.

In other early results, No. 21 Caroline Garcia beat Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (4), 6-4 and No. 30 Makarova had a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

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