Muguruza beats Konta in late-night Australian Open epic

Published by AAP

Garbine Muguruza in action against Johanna Konta in the second round of the Australian Open (Getty Images)
In the latest ever start to an Australian Open match, Garbine Muguruza outlasts Johanna Konta in a high-quality battle extending past 3.00am to reach the last 32.

Fomer world No.1 Garbine Muguruza claimed a 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5 win over Johanna Konta to reach the Australian Open third round and etch in her name into the record books as the winner of the latest starting match in the tournament’s history.

With a log-jam in scheduling caused by two men’s five-setters earlier on Thursday, 18th seed Muguruza and Briton Konta were kept from playing their first point until 12:30am (AEDT) on Friday in front of a smattering of hardy fans at Margaret Court Arena.

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The start was more than half an hour later than Daria Gavrilova and Elise Mertens’s second-round match at last year’s tournament, which began a minute before midnight.

At the end of a high-quality duel, former Wimbledon and French Open champion Muguruza pounced on Konta’s serve at 6-5 in the deciding set, grabbing a match point with a backhand winner before forcing a forehand error to seal the win.

“I mean, I seriously can’t believe there are people watching us at 3:15. Like who cares?,” Muguruza said on court to the few remaining fans in the stands.

“Very tough (match), I think Johanna was also playing very good.

“We play for you guys otherwise why are we here, for what?”

While the two-hour 42-minute match did not wrap up until 3:12am, it was still well off the record for the latest finish.

Lleyton Hewitt’s third-round win over Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis at the 2008 tournament lasted until 4:34am.

Muguruza will play Swiss Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the fourth round.

Konta, meanwhile, was less than impressed with the starting time.

“It wasn’t ideal for anyone. I don’t think it’s ideal for anyone to do any physical activity when it’s bedtime, but it is what it is and both of us were in the same boat,” she told the British media.

Despite the late hour, the two women produced an incredibly high-quality, combining for 15 aces to zero doubles and 87 winners to 56 errors.

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