JO Konta aims to remain for the long haul at the Australian Open while top seed Andy Murray’s hopes of a first Melbourne title was boosted with the shock five-set second-round defeat of reigning champion Novak Djokovic against world 117 Denis Ostomin of Uzbekistan.
Johanna Konta is looking every bit the contender
It followed Konta, Sir AndyÈs female equivalent as British No.1, taking a step towards her bid to make it a double for the Union flag bearers.
Last yearÈs semi-finalist, seeded nine, produced an air of certainty in dismissing Japanese teenage prospect Naomi Osaka 6-3 6-2.
A confidence she will almost certainly need to make the last 16 by overcoming former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
She closed the door on Osaka in the first set with two successive aces in the eighth game to hold after her opponent, the world No.48, who was close to breaking her.
OsakaÈs shoulders drooped as Konta broke her without conceding a point before clinching the set.
And she underlined her dominance to move into doubles figures in matches won in the New Year after Osaka saved two match points.
The Eastbourne-based 25-year-old was efficiency personified, winning all but four of her 36 first serves, hitting just one double fault and making only 13 unforced errors.
Konta said to the crowd: "I love playing on these amazing courts and I’m looking forward to staying here as long as possible.
Naomi is one of the up and coming players, with really impressive results over the past year or so. I knew it was a given that I had to be there for every single point.
Judy Murray, KontaÈs former Fed Cup captain and mother of Andy, said to the BBC: Johanna Konta is looking every bit the contender. She has one of the best serves in the women’s game, moves well, defends much better and plays well off both sides.
She looks confident, determined and focused. She has a strong team in her corner and is in a very good position to go far in this competition."
Konta is the only compatriot left standing in the womenÈs draw.
British No.2 Heather Watson, the Wimbledon mixed doubles champion with Henri Kontinen, crashed out to qualifier Jennifer Brady while squandering FIVE match points.
Her American opponent secured victory 2-6 7-6 10-8.
Watson, 24, who is 35 spots higher than her opponent in the WTA rankings, seemed to have the match under control. She cruised to the first set and served for the match at 5-4 in the second.
But she was broken and lost the tiebreak.
In a marathon deciding set, which lasted 1hr.26min, Watson had nine break points but failed to take any of them.
She had three match points in the 12th game and two more in the 16th.
Watson double-faulted to gift her 21-year-old opponent the lead in the 17th.
And the American cinched it on her third match point.
In the menÈs draw, Kyle Edmund failed to join fellow Brits Murray and Dan Evans in the third round. He was defeated 6-2 6-4 6-2 by Pablo Carreno Busta.
The 22-year-old Yorkshireman squandered six chances at break point. He struggled with his Spanish opponent’s serves and cutting down on his errors before succumbing in 106 minutes.
He misses out on a third-round showdown with Istomin, while Wimbledon champion Murray, the world No.1, takes on American Sam Querrey who stunned Djokovic in London SW19 last summer.
Edmund recorded six double faults and failed to take any of his six break-point opportunities
Jamie Murray, AndyÈs elder brother, and Brazilian Bruno Soares, the defending champions, lost 6-3 7-6 against Querrey and compatriot Donald Young in the opening round of the menÈs doubles.