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Radwanska conquers Konta in Sydney rematch

SYDNEY, Australia - Agnieszka Radwanska avenged her 2017 Sydney International final defeat in the first round on Tuesday, dismissing No.4 seed Johanna Konta, 6-3, 7-5.

"I'm just so happy to play such a great match before the Australian Open," she said during her on-court interview. "It was a Top 10 level match with some ups and downs, breaks along the way. The conditions weren't easy, but I'm happy to win in two sets."

In a highly anticipated rematch of last year's Apia International Sydney final, Agnieszka Radwanska turns the tables on defending champion Johanna Konta to advance in straight sets.
It was one of the most highly anticipated matches when the draw was revealed, and the rematch largely lived up to its billing as the Pole recovered from a 1-3 first set deficit and fought off a Konta comeback in the second to secure victory in one hour and 48 minutes.

The defending champion trailed Radwanska by a double break late in the match when she reeled off four straight games, only for the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion to display vintage form when it mattered most, striking 14 winners and breaking serve six times on Ken Rosewall Arena.

"Last year didn't end up the way I wanted, so I had to start from the beginning. I'm not thinking about the past and how this year will be much better," she said.

Eager to shake off a disappointing season, Radwanska kicks off the new year with her first Top 10 win since 2016, when she beat Karolina Pliskova to qualify for the final four in Singapore.

As for Konta, the British No.1 appeared to have recovered from the injury scare that forced her to retire from her match against Elina Svitolina at the Brisbane International, but was ultimately undone by 44 unforced errors. "That was a really positive thing for me today - that [the hip] held up fine and I recovered well from that," she told the press afterwards.

The World No.9 also chose to take the positives from the loss, focusing on her form during her comeback. "Although a little too late, I still was able to find a way to start playing more the way I wanted to play and still dig myself into the match," she pointed out.

However, the Wimbledon semifinalist also admitted to being flustered by her opponent. "I think one thing I would like to do better next time is panic less," she mused. "But again, that is a little bit to do with Aga as well. You know, she does ask those questions of her opponents and of me, and I think the more matches I get to play and then the more clear I am on methodically what I'm doing out there on court, I think the better I will be able to handle those kind of situations."

Up next for the former WTA World No.2 is young American Catherine "CiCi" Bellis, who won their only previous meeting at last year's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

"She's a young, dangerous opponent, very talented and moves very well. It'll be another challenge for me, but I'm ready to play," Radwanska said.

Konta's loss means that the only Sydney seeds to survive the first round are the top two, Garbiñe Muguruza and Venus Williams, who both received byes into the second round. But as Radwanska pointed out afterwards: "I don't feel any different to playing someone seeded or unseeded... You're not playing with numbers; you're playing against players."

The No.2 seed in 2017 but unseeded this year, the World No.28 has been bonding with another looming floater in the draw over their status: "Actually, I just talked with Angie [Kerber] - she's playing Venus now," laughed Radwanska. "And we were kind of, like, well, now what do you have to do when we drop and we are playing seeded players? Also, we were saying... probably they are not happy as well, right? So both sides have the same situation."


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