Johanna Konta loses to Garbine Muguruza in three sets after latest ever start to an Australian Open match of 12:30am… and a 3:12am finish!
- Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza finally made it on court at 12:30am
- Muguruza broke Konta in the first game, eventually winning the set 6-4
- Konta hung in against some heavy Muguruza hitting but the Spaniard prevailed
Jo Konta was up all night as she fought out an extraordinary Australian Open second round encounter which ended in agonising defeat at 3:12 am.
The British No 1 lost 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 to former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in an almost deserted stadium after putting in her best performance since Wimbledon 2017.
She was broken at 5-6 by the Spaniard having slugged it out for two hours and 42 minutes with little consideration for the late hour.
Johanna Konta is out of the Australian Open after losing to Garbine Muguruza in round two
Muguruza produced a brilliant display against the Brit and broke her serve in the first game
Konta battled valiantly but Muguruza did not let up, making for a fascinating match
‘I can’t believe there are people still watching,’ said Muguruza. ‘Jo played very good, serving big and I just tried to fight. I will go for breakfast now.’
The British No 1 and the former Wimbledon champion did not start their match until 1230am on the Margaret Court Arena.
It was the latest ever start for a match at a Grand Slam but not the latest finish, with the Melbourne record being Lleyton Hewitt against Marcos Baghdatis, ending at 4:38am in 2008.
Konta became the last British singles player to depart out of eight starters, a fourth straight Grand Slam when no GB player has gone solo beyond the middle Saturday.
They had been forced to wait all evening by a series of matches going longer than expected, including that immediately before them involving Alex Zverev and Jeremy Chardy, which went to five sets.
At one point the Referees’ office started preparing outside court Number Three to host the match, with bird droppings on it among the hazards that needed cleaning up.
Muguruza produced an impressive display as she goes in pursuit of her third Grand Slam title
Konta won the second set after a tiebreak and went toe-to-toe with Muguruza in the third
As the match passed 3am, there were few spectators left watching in the stands
Some even appeared to fall asleep as Muguruza and Konta battled on into the early hours
Around 1,000 hardy souls were dotted around the arena, including a couple of locals who had clearly been imbibing most of the evening and were eventually escorted out.
Muguruza set out to hit the ball as hard as she could, and while she can be erratic her depth and power were impressive through the first set. She broke in the first game and although Konta responded in fashion the Spaniard held on, saving a break back point at 3-4.
With both players continuing to pulverise the ball and the crowd thinning the purposeful Konta began to look the more threatening, but she hit a forehand marginally wide on the break point she created at 2-1 in the second set.
Konta looked the more secure player going into the tiebreak, which was interrupted at 1-1 for the roof to be entirely closed to keep out a rain shower.
Konta has plenty of reason for encouragement despite her defeat by Muguruza
The Spaniard celebrated jubilantly after finally sealing victory in the third set in Melbourne
It hardly put her off and she lifted her game thereafter, taking it 7-3 as the time hit 2.20am.
The clock had struck three as they duelled their way to 4-4, both players unyielding and Konta playing better than she has done since reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon eighteen months ago.
It was a cruel way to end when Muguruza found some big returns at 5-6, winning a match their neither participant deserved to lose.