Johanna Konta’s hopes of a happy homecoming at the Sydney International gained momentum on Tuesday, when she outclassed Australian Daria Gavrilova on a day of carnage for top seeds.
Konta, the sixth seed who was born in Sydney but now representing Great Britain, defeated Gavrilova 6-1 6-3.
The last Australian in the women’s draw scrambled to save 16 of 20 break points but ultimately had no answers on Ken Rosewell Arena.
It wasn’t the only victory for Konta on Tuesday, when a series of upsets gifted her a seed-free path to the Sydney final. World No.1 Angelique Kerber, defending Sydney champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and world No.6 Dominika Cibulkova were all sent packing.
Konta next faces Russian teen Daria Kasatkina, with the winner of that match to take on Eugenie Bouchard or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a semi-final.
“Every single year, it’s the same. Sydney is an incredibly tough line-up,” Konta said.
“Six out of the top 10 were here, I think, before Karolina (Pliskova) pulled out.
“Just because there is no seeds necessarily left in my part, every single player that’s involved in the tournament is there for a reason.”
Konta last year became the first British woman to reach the final four of a grand slam since 1983, losing to eventual winner Kerber in their Australian Open semi-final.
“Melbourne is still a little way away and I’m right here in Sydney, enjoying my time here,” the 25-year-old said.
“I was born here. I lived here until I was 13, and, yeah, my sister is here. It’s definitely not like any other tournament for me. It is special in that way.
“I haven’t gone to where I grew up or anything, so it’s still like every other tournament in the sense that I’m here or at the hotel. I have gone to my sister’s place, though, so that’s nice.”
Konta praised Gavrilova’s fight in the 80-minute match.
“I knew going into the match that Dasha wasn’t going to give it to me. She’s famous for being an incredibly tough competitor,” Konta said.
“I’m very happy to have closed it out when I did.”