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Konta cruises past Brengle in Australian Open first round

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Ninth-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain began her attempt for a third straight quality finish at the Australian Open on Tuesday with a swift 6-3, 6-1 victory over American Madison Brengle on Hisense Arena.

"I thought it was a great first round for me to fight through and battle through and stay strong in the way I wanted to play out there," Konta told the press after her match. "And I feel I did that. I think overall I'm happy with how I was able to compete."

No.9 seed Johanna Konta quickly moved into the second round of the Australian Open with a straight-set win over Madison Brengle. The 2016 semifinalist and 2017 quarterfinalist improves to 10-2 in Melbourne.
Brengle had won the first three meetings between the two, but Konta picked up her first win over the American at the BNP Paribas Open in 2016 in straight sets, and continued the pattern in Melbourne in just over an hour. Konta, an Australian Open semifinalist in 2016 and a quarterfinalist last year, is 10-2 in her career at the year's first Grand Slam event.

"I think Madison is the kind of player who does ask a lot of questions of the people she plays," the World No.10 continued. "She gets a lot of balls back. I think you need patience to also play with her. For me, personally, that's definitely one thing I have gotten better at over the years."

After a couple of competitive games to start, Konta began to take command, moving into the court frequently and pushing the speedy Brengle behind the baseline with powerful forehands. Konta claimed the first break of the match for 2-1 with a backhand winner down the line, and then started clicking on her serve, hitting four aces in her next two service games.

Konta broke the American again for 5-2, and held a set point in the next game, but Brengle stubbornly refused to go down without a fight, tracking down as many balls as she could, and forcing Konta into errors, which led to her only break of the Konta serve in the match.

The British star, however, was not rattled, and once more used her aggressive play to break Brengle at love to clinch the first set. Konta finished the opening frame with seven aces, while Brengle, knowing she had to serve as aggressively as possible, had three double faults. Konta also had 17 winners in the set, to Brengle's three.

"I knew I had to stay very strong in my identity of how I wanted to play," Konta explained. "I wanted to make sure I was trusting in my shots regardless of where she was in the court and looking to move forward. I knew that was how I was going to give myself the best chance of creating opportunities."

Konta upped the ante in the following set. A forehand crosscourt winner on break point gave the Brit the first lead of the second set at 3-1, and she continued to attack the Brengle service, en route to another break and a 5-1 lead.

Serving for the match, Konta raced to double match point, but, once more, the wily American refused to cede the set without resistance. Brengle, who made the fourth round in Melbourne in 2015 for her career-best Grand Slam result, erased both match points to bring the game to deuce.

A third match point for Konta came and went, and, suddenly, a backhand error long gave Brengle a break point and a chance to extend the match. But two consecutive winners from the majestic Konta forehand brought her a fourth match point, and this one would not go begging. A strong backhand by the Brit forced an error wide from the American, wrapping up the first-round tilt.

Konta moves into the second round for the third straight year, where she will face American Bernarda Pera. Pera entered her first ever Grand Slam main draw as a lucky loser after the withdrawal of Russia's Margarita Gasparyan, and took full advantage by ousting another Russian, qualifier Anna Blinkova, in the first round by the score of 6-2, 6-2.

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