British number one Johanna Konta has pulled out of the Sydney International with a neck injury – just a week before the Australian Open starts.

Konta, 27, retired from her second-round qualifying match against Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova when 4-1 down.

Compatriot Heather Watson, 26, reached the Hobart International main draw with a qualifying win over Isabelle Wallace.

Watson, the British number two and a previous winner of the Hobart event, overcame the Australian 6-4 6-4.

“When I come to Hobart I’m always feeling really positive and excited about the tournament,” said Watson.

“When I’m happy, I play better. I’m very happy here and I think it shows in my results.”

Sydney-born Konta, ranked 37th in the world, reached the Australian Open semi-finals in 2016 and was a quarter-finalist in 2017, though she exited last year’s tournament in the second round.

She hurt her neck in the warm-up on Sunday and withdrew just 18 minutes into the match after speaking to physio Belinda Smith at courtside.

Despite pulling out, Konta could still take up a place in the main draw if she is one of the lucky losers – players defeated in qualifying but get into the main draw when another player withdraws.

The tournaments in Sydney and Hobart are among the final WTA events before the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, begins on 14 January.


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