Britain’s Johanna Konta turned up the heat to overpower Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 6-2 in a one-sided final at the Sydney International on Friday and claim her second career WTA title.
The world number 10 reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open last year and will be a major threat again next week going by her form in the warm-up tournament in the city where she was born and raised until her early teens.
The 25-year-old had lost both her previous meetings with Radwanska but simply brushed aside the world number three with a 82-minute display of aggression and power at the Olympic Tennis Centre.
“I was born here, so this is a very special moment for me,” Konta said after receiving the trophy. “I’m actually really happy.”
Voted the WTA’s most-improved player last year when she won her maiden title in Stanford, Konta’s rise to the top 10 has been as much a mental battle as it has been about talent and skill.
She kept her cool despite temperatures reaching 32 degrees Celsius at the Olympic Tennis Centre, only showing any sign of nerves with an ill-judged and executed drop shot on her first championship point.
The 27-year-old Radwanska, twice a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, admitted she had been powerless to prevent the Briton claiming the title the Pole had previously won in 2013.
“Well done Jo, it was unbelievable tennis today, I couldn’t have played any better,” she said.
Konta came out clearly looking to make the most of her advantage in height and weight over the petite Radwanska and although her aggression came with risks in the form of a string of unforced errors, it was highly effective.
She served out the first set to love after 45 minutes and, after a chat with new coach Wim Fissette, who warned her to ignore any distractions, broke Radwanska in the opening game of the second stanza with a fierce backhand crosscourt winner.
Thereafter, there only ever looked like being one winner and the Briton sealed victory with a seventh ace of the match on her second championship point.
Konta opens her second main draw Australia Open campaign against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, while Radwanska will face Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round in Melbourne.