MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta had their Grand Slam breakthroughs last year, and both prepared for the season’s first major with title runs in Australia.
They both won their first-round matches at the Australian Open in straight sets on Tuesday, and are growing in confidence.
U.S. Open finalist Pliskova following her title win at the Brisbane International with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo to get day two under way on Rod Laver Arena.
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The fifth-seeded Pliskova, who beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals before losing the final to Angelique Kerber, has never advanced past the third round at Melbourne Park – losing at that stage in the last two years to Ekaterina Makarova.
Pliskova is feeling more confident this time.
”I feel good on the court, especially when I win my first title in the first week of the year,” Pliskova said. ”So I’m ready for the tournament.”
Konta, who won the Sydney International title last week, had a tougher time in beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.
”It was incredibly tricky. She has the kind of game that can make any player feel uncomfortable out there,” Konta said. ”I definitely love playing here. It’s a dream. A lot has happened in the last year, but I’m just enjoying playing and getting better each day.”
Ninth-seeded Konta was a surprise semifinalist in her debut at the Australian Open last year, starting with a first-round win over Venus Williams and sparking a strong 2016 season which ended with her in the top 10.
Serena Williams was opening her bid for a record 23rd Grand Slam title with a first-round match against Belinda Bencic in the second match on Rod Laver Arena.
In other early results, No. 21 Caroline Garcia beat Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (4), 6-4 and No. 30 Makarova had a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova.