Consolation for defeated Konta as she heads for Melbourne injury-free

Johanna Konta. Picture: John Walton/PA
Johanna Konta. Picture: John Walton/PA
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Johanna Konta saw her Sydney International title defence swiftly ended as she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round.

A surprising slide in the rankings to 28th meant former world No 2 Radwanska entered this week as an unseeded player, but she showed her quality in a 6-3 7-5 victory over British hope Konta.

In a repeat of last year’s final match-up, fourth seed Konta could not take control of the contest against Poland’s former Wimbledon runner-up.

Consolation for Konta came with the fact she completed the match without obvious physical problems, five days after being forced to retire from her Brisbane International quarter-final with Elina Svitolina due to injury.

She heads for Melbourne and the Australian Open, where 12 months ago she reached the quarter-finals, while Radwanska stays in Sydney and faces American teenager CiCi Bellis.

At the Hobart International, defending champion Elise Mertens was a 6-4 6-4 winner against Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Australian teenager Alex de Minaur continued his eye-catching start to the year by beating former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-2 at the Sydney International.

Former British No 2 Aljaz Bedene, who reverted nationality to his native Slovenian during the close season, lost 1-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 to French player Benoit Paire.