A battle of former champions went decidedly one way, and that way wasn’t Serena Williams’s. Johanna Konta destroyed the former No. 1 6-1, 6-0 in the first round at San Jose last night.
Serena won the first game then Konta reeled off 12 straight. The Brit who won the tournament in 2016, controlled the baseline and moved the 36-year-old Serena with ease around the court.
“It’s an absolute privilege to be on the same court as Serena,” Konta said on court. “After all she’s achieved, it’s so humbling just to come up against her. She obviously wasn’t playing her best level – nowhere near – so I tried to play the match on my terms and just do what I can out here, put aside what an incredible champion she is, and just play the player on the day.
“I might have been better on the day, but it’s still a humbling experience to be out there with her.”
The loss was the worst in Serena’s career.
“I think she played well in the second set,” said Serena. “I wasn’t sharp at all in the first set, and she got more confident from there. She clearly ran away with it.
“I suppose things went wrong in the second game since I won the first – it was the only game I won in the match. I’m just taking everything a day at a time.
“I think she played better in this match than she has in about 18 months, so that’s great for her. I know I can play a zillion times better, but I have so many things on my mind, I don’t have time to be shocked about a loss that clearly wasn’t when I was at my best. I can only try to be there and fight, which is what I was doing out there. I moved a lot better, too, so I’ll take the positives where I can.”
Serena never gained a break point on the Konta serve and hit just nine winners to 25 unforced.
In other matches Tuesday, another Brit-USA went the way of Britain as Heather Watson took out teen Claire Liu. American youngster and qualifier Amanda Anisimova advanced over Qiang Wang in her return event since a Miami injury.
Today, Konta is back to take on Sofia Kenin. And in the marquee match, Garbine Muguruza meets Victoria Azarenka.
In Washington, Sloane Stephens was a winner over Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Indian Wells champion Noami Osaka also won. But top seed Caroline Wozniacki had to withdraw from the event with a right leg injury.
Stephens returns today to battle former Top 10 Andrea Petkovic.
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