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British interest in the singles at the Australian Open ended with a late-night defeat for Johanna Konta against two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza.
Konta hit the first serve of the contest at 12.30am, making it the latest start to a match at Melbourne Park and almost certainly in grand slam history. By the time Muguruza struck the winning shot to claim a 6-4 6-7 (3) 7-5 victory, it was 3.12am.
"I can't believe there are still people watching at 3.15," said Muguruza. "Who cares?"
"I'll go for breakfast now," she added.
This was still nowhere near the latest finish ever, which came in 2008 when Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis played a five-set match that finished at 4.33am.
Although Konta did not come out on top of this one, this was a performance from the British number one that harked back to her form of two years ago, when she appeared a legitimate grand slam challenger, and should give her plenty of confidence for the season ahead.
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British number one Kyle Edmund has pledged to do "everything he can" to be fit for the Australian Open after picking up a knee injury.
The 23-year-old, who is ranked 14th in the world, has withdrawn from next week's Sydney International, which was set to be his final warm-up event before the year's first grand slam in Melbourne.
"I am disappointed that I won't be able to return to Sydney," Edmund was quoted as saying on the Twitter account of the Sydney International.
"I need to focus on my preparations for the Australian Open and do everything I can to be fit for the first grand slam of the year."
Edmund reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2018, losing to Marin Cilic in straight sets, but suffered a shock defeat to Japan's world number 185 Yasutaka Uchiyama on Wednesday in the Brisbane International.
The Australian Open gets under way on January 14.
The Australian Open has followed Wimbledon by introducing final-set tie-breaks for matches at next month's tournament.
But, while Wimbledon will have a standard first-to-seven-points tie-break at 12-12, Australian Open matches which go the distance will be decided by a first-to-10-points tie-break at 6-6.
The US Open was the first grand slam to introduce final-set tie-breaks, with a first-to-seven-points game played at 6-6, meaning the three tournaments will all use a different format. The French Open is now the only slam to use a long deciding set.
The news comes at the end of a year where the divisions between tennis' various governing bodies have become significantly more entrenched despite pledges to work together in the interests of the sport.
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