British number one Johanna Konta is steeling herself for another colossal examination of her credentials when she locks horns with Garbine Muguruza in the second round of the Australian Open.
Konta became the third British player to overcome a first-round hurdle in Melbourne but she was pushed all the way by Ajla Tomljanovic before besting the Australian in a nail-biting tie-break, eventually recording a 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 7-6 (10-7) victory.
The 27-year-old’s progression tees up a meeting with 2017 Wimbledon champion Muguruza, who endured a testing 2018 and has fallen to 18th in the world rankings.
Konta also won the pair’s last two meetings but believes that she goes into battle against a wounded animal.
“She’s a great player. She’s got two grand slam titles to her name, she plays big tennis, she competes very well, so that will be a big challenge to me,” said Konta.
“For someone to win two grand slam titles – and I think she is still ranked in the top 20 – she is a heck of a player.
“I don’t think she is vulnerable. I think she is doing very well and I am looking forward to playing her again.”
Konta joined fellow Brits Dan Evans and Katie Boulter in making it to the second round.
Two weeks after being beaten by Tomljanovic in Brisbane, she was able to savour revenge after a fearsome tussle, winning the decisive tie-break 10-7 with a powerful cross-court forehand.
Konta said: “I didn’t get to win as many of these matches last year.”
“Overall, I’m just very happy to have been able to stay there with her when she was also playing well but then play a lot of tennis on my terms as well, which was important for me to learn from.”