From Metro UK
British hopes in the singles draws of the Australian Open are looking rather bleak after just three days of the tournament with only one player left standing.
Katie Boulter followed Dan Evans in heading out of the competition on Wednesday afternoon to leave only Johanna Konta in the draw after beginning the tournament with eight Brits.
Boulter was handed a very tough draw and deserves great credit for her win over former top-10 player and Australian Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova in round one, and she fought hard once more in a 6-3 6-4 defeat to 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Sabalenka is one of the most gifted players on the WTA Tour. The Belarusian possesses frightening firepower and she may well prove to be a contender at this year’s edition. If not here, then certainly down the road.
Though Boulter went out, she will surely take plenty of confidence from her displays at Melbourne Park and there’s a sense she belongs at this level.
Evans, too, was handed a testing draw against defending champion Roger Federer but left with plenty of credit after a strong performance against the world No. 3.
He went out after a two-and-a-half hour battle with the 20-time major winner, having come through qualifying.
Other Brits had already fallen in the opening round, with tough draws for British No. 1 Kyle Edmund against Kyle Berdych, Harriet Dart against five-time Slam champion Maria Sharapova, while Heather Watson lost to seeded Petra Martic.
Cam Norrie was perhaps the most disappointing result given his win over Taylor Fritz in the week building up to the event, while Andy Murray’s spirited exit to Roberto Bautista Agut warmed the hearts of the British public.
It’s up to Johanna Konta to maintain interest from the UK’s perspective beyond Thursday but she faces the daunting task of two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza.
Konta has beaten her on multiple occasions before and both have dipped in form, and ranking, over the past two years, but the former world No. 1 will head into that one as the favourite to advance.
Should she go out, there will be no British singles action at the weekend or beyond and perhaps highlights just how much Murray will be missed.