ROME, ITALY – The clay court swing continues as Johanna Konta looks to gain some match-play on the red clay, while Kyle Edmund will be hoping to continue what he had started in Madrid last week.
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Johanna Konta vs Magdalena Rybarikova  H2H: Konta leads 3-0
Johanna Konta faces a difficult and tricky opponent in the first round of the tournament in Rome as she comes up against Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova. Konta actually played and beat Rybarikova in straight sets in Madrid last week, but Konta will be fully aware of the change in conditions and the slight adjustment to the speed of the surface when you compare the two tournaments.
Konta’s week in Madrid was a bit of a mixed bag. It looked like her game matched up to the faster clay in the high altitude as it gave her the freedom to continue to play a hard court style of tennis on a clay court, which gave her the first win over Rybarikova, but she later lost to her Australian Open nemesis Bernarda Pera in the second round of the tournament.
Konta remains positive and optimistic about her chances to play well on the clay despite having some stunning losses on this surface since making the transition from ITF level to WTA level and she speaks highly of the process she finds herself in, but she will have to adapt completely to the slow conditions in Rome that play not too dissimilarly to the French Open.
The good thing for Konta is that Rybarikova is not renowned for enjoying the slow clay either. Rybarikova plays most of her better tennis on the faster indoor hard courts and on the grass courts, where she gets the most out of that awkward backhand slice, but it also enables her to get more pop on her first serve. Konta will definitely fancy her chances on winning a round or two in Rome after taking some confidence from the week in Madrid.
I think the key for Konta on these slower conditions is to expect her aggressive groundstrokes to come back and to make sure she applies herself mentally for those balls. If she does just that then there is no reason why she cannot win a couple of rounds to set herself up for a better French Open this time around.
Kyle Edmund‘s ambitions on a clay court are very much different to Konta’s. Edmund has always performed well on this particular surface and that pretty much is due to the way he has mastered the movement on clay. Edmund has not only been winning matches during this swing, but he has been winning big, tough matches. The wins against Novak Djokovic and David Goffin on his way to a first Masters 1000 quarter-final are two results that will give him that extra belief against the Top 10 players in the world. Edmund knows he has the game and he has the forehand to do damage to any players baseline game, but believing and doing are two different things. Edmund now can move into Rome and the rest of the clay court events with even brighter ambitions.
He plays Malek Jaziri in the Rome first round, which is pretty tough on paper. Jaziri is the sort of player that can cause the most unlikely of upsets, but can also lose to nearly anyone on his day. He is a streaky player, but made his mark on the Istanbul clay court tournament last month by making the final, before losing to Taro Daniel. The key for Edmund is to focus on his strengths and focus on what he does well, because that is the mindset that has taken him to the Top-20.
Prediction: Edmund in two sets
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