Kyle Edmund in early exit as Harriet Dart shines at Australian Open

DOWN AND OUT: Kyle Edmund serves against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic on day two of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Picture: Greg Wood/AFPGetty Images
DOWN AND OUT: Kyle Edmund serves against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic on day two of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Picture: Greg Wood/AFPGetty Images
0
Have your say

FORMER semi-finalists Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund were eliminated from the Australian Open in the first round.

There was a British victory at the last, though, as Harriet Dart came through a dramatic tussle with Misaki Doi 2-6 6-4 7-6 (6) to record her first victory at Melbourne Park.

The British No 3, who had come through qualifying for the second straight year, booked a second-round date with Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

Yorkshireman Edmund had a tough draw against in-form 24th seed Dusan Lajovic but had led 5-2 when the rain arrived on Monday.

Lajovic won three straight games on the resumption though, and took the opening set on a tie-break.

The match continued to be close but any glimmers for Edmund were snuffed out by Lajovic, who completed the 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory with a running forehand winner.

Exit: Britain's Katie Boulter makes a forehand return on the way to defeat against Elina Svitolina.

Exit: Britain's Katie Boulter makes a forehand return on the way to defeat against Elina Svitolina.

Cameron Norrie also failed to join Dan Evans in the second round, losing 7-5 3-6 3-6 7-5 6-4 to France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Edmund has lost in the first round on both his visits to Melbourne Park since making the last four in 2018.

The British No 3 said: “Ultimately, it’s disappointing because I’m out of the tournament. From his point of view, I thought he was playing pretty well, at a high level, consistently.”

Edmund will look to push his ranking up from its mark of 65 back into the top 50 with few ranking points to defend after his disappointing 2019.

I want to be playing better and winning more matches. They are not coming at the minute. I have to keep going. I don’t think I am too far away.

He said: “I feel like I am playing better than I was this time last year. Even the way I finished at the end of the year, I was in a good place.

“I want to be playing better and winning more matches. They are not coming at the minute. I have to keep going. I don’t think I am too far away.”

Konta, who reached the semi-finals four years ago, came into the tournament as the 12th seed but with expectations tempered by the fact she had only played one match since a quarter-final exit at the US Open in early September.

A knee injury curtailed her season and Konta will be heading home a lot sooner than she would have hoped after going down 6-4 6-2 to Tunisian world No 78 Ons Jabeur.

Spain's Rafael Nadal makes a backhand return to Bolivia's Hugo Dellien. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man

Spain's Rafael Nadal makes a backhand return to Bolivia's Hugo Dellien. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man

The 28-year-old had always made at least the second round in four previous appearances in the main draw at Melbourne Park, while this is the first time since a second-round loss to Garbine Muguruza here 12 months ago that she has not reached at least the quarter-finals of a slam.

Konta must decide where to play next, and she may seek a wild card into the St Petersburg Trophy, which begins two days after Britain’s Fed Cup play-off against Slovakia on February 7-8, which she misses.

Katie Boulter made a promising return to grand slams after a back injury but lost 6-4 7-5 to fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

Maria Sharapova offered no guarantees that she will be back at the Australian Open after a first-round 6-3 6-4 defeat against Donna Vekic.

Ongoing shoulder problems have limited Sharapova to a handful of tournaments and her ranking is projected to drop to world No 366 after this defeat.

Rafael Nadal eased himself through 6-2 6-3 6-0 over Hugo Dellien, the first Bolivian to play in the Australian Open.

Johanna Konta makes a backhand return to Tunisia's Ons Jabeur at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Picture: AP/Dita Alangkara

Johanna Konta makes a backhand return to Tunisia's Ons Jabeur at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Picture: AP/Dita Alangkara

Nick Kyrgios, whose stock is high thanks to his efforts in leading tennis’ response to the wildfire crisis, kept his focus on court in a 6-2 7-6 (3) 7-6 (1) victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.