British No1 Johanna Konta admitted that she initially doubted her ability to beat eighth seed Venus Williams after outclassing the seven-time grand slam champion in the Australian Open first round yesterday.
Konta, who reached the fourth round of last year’s US Open, blitzed out-of-sorts former Wimbledon winner Williams 6-4, 6-2 in just 79 minutes, and will now face China’s Zheng Saisai in round two.
“When the draw came out and I saw who I was playing, I was like ‘well, I hope to stay out there more than an hour’,” said the 24-year-old. “I had a very strong belief in the way I wanted to play out there. Sometimes, you win, and today I won.”
World No47 Konta was born and raised in Sydney before moving to the United Kingdom aged 14, and played down suggestion that she may be tempted to switch her allegiance to Australia.
“No. Unfortunately, my home in Great Britain. It has been for a long time now, over a decade. That’s where my heart is,” she added.
Former champion Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, conceded that he was mystified by his shock first-round exit after losing 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (4-7), 6-2 to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
The 29-year-old’s defeat was only his second ever first-round loss at a grand slam and follows a 2015 season during which he failed to win a major title for the first time since 2004.
“It is not like last year when I arrived here playing bad and feeling myself not ready for it,” said Nadal. “This year was a completely different story. I have been playing and practising great and working so much.”
On a day of upsets, Romania’s Simona Halep, the second seed in the women’s draw, was dispatched 6-4, 6-3 by Chinese qualifier Zhang Shaui, who is ranked No133 in the world.