Jo Konta in Australian Open injury fear after retiring from warm-up event in Sydney

JOHANNA KONTA faces an injury scare just a week before the Australian Open gets underway.

The British No1, 27, retired hurt with a neck problem suffered in the warm-up ahead of the second round of qualifying at the Sydney International.

 Johanna Konta was forced to retire from the Sydney International due to a neck injury

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Johanna Konta was forced to retire from the Sydney International due to a neck injury
 It means she is now facing a race against time to be fit for the Australian Open which starts next week

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It means she is now facing a race against time to be fit for the Australian Open which starts next week

Sydney-born Konta was trailing 4-1 in the first set to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova after 18 minutes when she decided she could not continue after consulting physio Belinda Smith courtside.

In a strange twist of events, though, Konta may still be eligible to play in the main draw of the warm-up event for the first Grand Slam of the year.

That is because the world No37 has secured a lucky loser place and is scheduled to play No7 seed Kiki Bertens.

But after retiring hurt today, it seems unlikely she would risk another game so close to the Australian Open, which starts on January 14.

The Sydney tournament has attracted a strong field with world No1 Simona Halep and No2 Angelique Kerber as well as Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapoenko and Garbine Muguruza all hoping to make good final preparations ahead of the fortnight in Melbourne.

And it the Grand Slam where Konta has enjoyed the most success in her career.

She reached the semi-finals in 2016 – the first time she appeared in the main draw there – and then made the quarters the following year.

Konta endured a difficult season in 2018, where she reached the second round in Australia and at Wimbledon and fell at the first hurdle in Paris and New York.

 The Sydney-born Konta lasted just 18 minutes against Ekaterina Alexandrova and was trailing 4-1 in the opening set

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The Sydney-born Konta lasted just 18 minutes against Ekaterina Alexandrova and was trailing 4-1 in the opening set
 She was handed a lucky loser place for the main draw at the warm-up event but it is unclear if she will take it

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She was handed a lucky loser place for the main draw at the warm-up event but it is unclear if she will take it

And she will be desperate not to let this neck injury hinder her chances of a good run this year.

Meanwhile, fellow Brit Heather Watson reached the main draw of the Hobart International in Tasmania.

The British No2 is a previous winner of the Tasmania event and she beat Isabelle Wallace 6-4 6-4.

Watson said: "When I come to Hobart I'm always feeling really positive and excited about the tournament. When I'm happy, I play better. I'm very happy here and I think it shows in my results."

 Heather Watson qualified for the main draw of the Hobart International after a 6-4 6-4 win over Isabelle Wallace

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Heather Watson qualified for the main draw of the Hobart International after a 6-4 6-4 win over Isabelle Wallace

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JOHANNA KONTA faces an injury scare just a week before the Australian Open gets underway.