January 9, 2018 / 4:25 AM / in 9 months

Tennis-Defending champion Konta knocked out in Sydney first round

SYDNEY, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Defending champion Johanna Konta suffered a reversal of last year’s final when she was bundled out in the first round of the Sydney International by Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday.

The Pole had been overpowered in 82-minutes by the Briton in the final last year, but repaid the favour on Ken Rosewall Arena at the Olympic Tennis Centre as she raced to a 6-3 7-5 victory.

Neither player was able to dominate with their service games in the first set, with Konta’s second serve barely a factor as she won just two of her 11 second serve points and Radwanska converted three of her five break opportunities.

Konta again had trouble holding serve in the second set but showed signs of a fightback when she broke while trailing 4-1 in the second, but then could not push on as Radwanska sealed the victory in one hour, 49 minutes.

The first round loss continues some worrying early season performances for the 26-year-old world number nine Konta.

She struggled to get going in her first two matches last week in Brisbane before she withdrew from her quarter-final with a hip injury.

She told Sydney organisers on Monday, however, that she was fit, having withdrawn from Brisbane because she could not keep playing but also had an eye on next week’s season-opening grand slam.

Radwanska, who was upset by American qualifier Sachia Vickery in the Auckland quarter-finals last week, will now meet another American qualifier Catherine Bellis in the second round in Sydney. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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