Both British number ones Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund crashed out of the Australian Open, losing their first round matches in Melbourne to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur and Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic respectively.
12th seed Konta who was playing only her second match in five months due to a knee injury crashed out 6-4,6-2 to the world number 78. She looked rusty from the start, nowhere near her best which saw her reaching the French Open Semi’s and the Quarter finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open last year. Although she was pleased with how her knee handled the match, feeling no discomfit it was her 19 unforced errors that caused the issues in her performance.
“It's important to recognise the season is long,” Konta told BBC Sport.
“I'm not going to rush or sprint towards suddenly packing it all in. Things will come with time and putting the right work in.”
Like Konta, Edmund as reached the last four of this event previously however, that 2018 performance continues to look like a one off as he yet again crashed out at the first hurdle, making it his four first round exit in his last six appearances in Melbourne.
Despite taking a convincing early 5-2 lead in the first set, it was again unforced errors that allowed Lajovic to capitalise and very quickly level the game at 5-5 before the break for lunch.
The following tie breaker went the way of the Serbian and with his physical presence allowing him to dominate the rallies the number 24 seed soon found himself two sets up. A statistic Edmund as never been able to overcome during his career nor as he ever claimed a set back as he lost the third to a tie break to bow out with a straight set defeat.
Britain’s third hope of the day 23 year old Katie Boulter did nearly put some pride back into the British cause as she pushed one of the favourites for the Austarlian title fifth seed Svitolina all the way in their match.
With nearly twelve months out after injuring her back during Great Britain’s Fed Cup tie against Kazakhstan last April her lengthy lay off as seen her slip from 86th to 317th in the world rankings on paper.
However, that wasn’t the case on the court as Boulter rocked the Ukrainian narrowly missing out on the opening set 6-4 as Svitolina’s fitness and quality started to help her edge ahead. The second set went much the same way as the pair went neck and neck at 5-5, before Svitolina again edged away to eventual take the set 7-5.
Speaking after the match Boulter was pleased with her performance as she told the BBC;
“I think I played some really good points but I also gave a lot away, which for me is quite disappointing because I expect better of myself. But it was a good match, I have to take the positives from it,”
“I haven't played a match like that in a very long time.”
Remaining Brits Harriet Dart and Cameron Norrie will both take to the court today as their games also suffered from the opening day down pours that caused the tournament to effectively start a day late, While Heather Watson who was scheduled to play Czech Kristyna Pliskova today will now have another 24 hours to wait as her match as been but back to wed.