Su Wei Hsieh def. Johanna Konta  1-6 7-6(2) 6-4
The start of the match boded well for the British fortunes on Day 3, as Johanna Konta looked sharp, solid and aggressive fro the outset, handling the flat balls coming back at her from Su-Wei Hsieh with variety and decisiveness.
There was little that Hsieh seemed able to do in that first set, and it looked as though Konta would finally break her Roland Garros duck. Certainly the second set from Hsieh was a lot more competitive, and although Konta was pushing at the start, suddenly the clay-court show was on the other foot.
Games started going to deuce as Konta’s backhand first started misfiring, before generally abandoning her for a spot of sightseeing in Paris. Where the pressure had initially been on Hsieh from Konta, the Brit found herself defending like crazy to stave off four break points. The tide was turning as Konta then had to save a set point to force a tie-break.
Despite getting the first mini-break the momentum shifted to Hsieh as she broke Konta three times to level the match. The Brit was looking decidedly unsettled. Connection with her backhand was now very few and far between as three consecutive breaks left Hsieh in the driving seat.
Credit where it is due, Konta did indeed fight for every last point, failing to covert on four break points, before finally bowing out of the clay court season. There has been no doubt this is her least successful surface, but in true Konta fashion worked hard to take the positives out of a marginally better season that 2016.
She said: “I know results-wise it doesn’t reflect it necessarily, but the conversations I have with my coach and the way I feel, I’ve actually made a lot of improvements on this surface with every match that I played.
“I really felt that growth-wise and even level-wise I did improve with every single point, game, and set, and match that I played throughout the season. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get the chance to play another match here, because I definitely was enjoying my time on the surface and I wanted the season to continue on the clay.”
This has been a consistent message coming from the Brit since the start of her season in that ill-fated Fed Cup tie in Romania where she won that fraught match against Sorana Cirstea but lost to Simona Halep.
Onto the Grass
Konta will now head back home for a few days rest with her family who she was sure had missed her, before travelling back up to the London to prepare for her first tournament in Nottingham.
For those people who only ever become aware of the tennis season in the UK once it moves to the grass and builds towards an abundance of strawberries and cream, they may be disappointed if they think Konta feels she ought to be helping Andy Murray carry the hopes of a nation.
“I most importantly play tennis for myself and I play tennis for my own enjoyment. And I’m a very lucky person in the sense that I get to do something that I love on a daily basis.
“I think if I were to approach every match and every tournament according to external expectations, I think that would be quite a difficult existence to live.”
She continued: “All I can promise whenever I go out on court is that I will always do my best. Whether that comes away with a win or a loss, I don’t know. That depends a lot on the day, a lot on the level that I can produce, and also what my opponent can produce on the day. And that’s really all I can do with that.”
Of course there are some interesting aspects to the change of surface, especially given the length of time of the seasons in the European swing.
“My arse is definitely going to be sore for the first couple of days. You generally get pretty sore getting low down to balls on a consistent basis. But then again, today my opponent made me get very low for balls. So I think maybe that’s a good preparation for my Grass training.
“But, yeah, I think doing all the necessary adjustments also physically off court to be prepared for the on-court demands. And like with any surface change, you adapt and you focus a little more in certain areas. But, otherwise, with the first few days, it’s always being also really tolerant with yourself.”
Konta is still expecting to play the Aegon Open (Nottingham), Aegon Classic (Birmingham) and Aegon International (Eastbourne) ahead of The Championships.
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