sport

Watson, Konta ease through

Heather Watson and Johanna Konta cruised through the opening round of qualifying at the Australian Open with convincing straight-set wins.

Watson, who reached the third round in Melbourne last year, defeated Australian Arina Rodionova 6-4 6-3 and will next meet France's Stephanie Foretz Gacon, who she beat at the French Open in 2011.

The 21-year-old, who is playing in grand slam qualifying for the first time in 18 months after glandular fever ruined her 2013 season and saw, said: "I was very nervous. I feel like in the middle I loosened up but my energy really dropped at the end because I think all the nervous energy had worn me out.

"But I was able to close it out. I played quite well, I definitely can play better, and I think I'll play a lot freer in my next match.

"I don't know why I was so nervous, it's a while since I played in qualifying and I expect myself to do well and go far. I really like the tournament and play well on these courts so I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself."

Watson was already feeling the effects of glandular fever at the Australian Open last year before it was eventually diagnosed in March.

She came back after two months but later conceded that was too soon and she struggled until her final couple of tournaments in 2013.

Learned

By that stage her ranking had plummeted outside the top 120, but the signs have been positive so far this season, with Watson qualifying for the tournament in Brisbane last week.

She said: "I feel like I'm playing the best that I have the last couple of weeks, especially in practice. I had six singles matches before this tournament so that's what I wanted."

Watson also has a new coach, Argentinian Diego Veronelli, and she is happy with how the partnership is progressing.

"It's going very well with Diego," she said. "I've learned a lot already, we're adding different things to my game and most importantly we're getting on very well."

Konta joined Watson in the second qualifying round after a comfortable win over Grace Min.

Konta, seeded three, rattled off a 6-2 6-1 victory over the American and she will now take on the winner of the match between Sachie Ishizu and Olaga Savchuk.

British No 4 Tara Moore did not fare so well, the 21-year-old losing 6-0 7-5 to Japan's Erika Sema.