After what could be described as a pretty disappointing grass court season, Kyle Edmund has looked a lot more sure of himself in the summer hard-court swing, in the lower tier tournaments at least. He looked solid in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, book-ended a disappointing run-out in the back to back Masters events, but he carried on that good momentum with an assured win over the No. 32 seed Robin Haase.
Edmund was the first to pressure Haase but could not convert on his first try, but made good on his chances at the end of the first set, taking three set points to take the lead. Breaking in the middle of the second set, Edmund looked in control as he deflected three break points on his own serve, but lapsed to allow the Dutchman a little look of hope as he broke back to level at 5-5. Undeterred, Edmund broke straight back to regain the advantage as he served out the second set to love.
Edmund went on to stamp his authority in the third set, book-ending the set with breaks to book a match-up with Steve Johnson, who he beat last week in Winston-Salem.
Cameron Norrie [Q] def. Dmitry Tursunov 7-6(7) 6-1 RET
Coming through qualifying is a feat in itself and luck dealt Cameron Norrie a good hand as he played Dmitry Tursunov, coming in on a protected ranking. Norrie went toe-to-toe with the Russian, finally getting the upper hand in the tie-break before having to fight his corner after being broken at the start of the second set.
Norrie broke back, and would break the Russian twice more in succession before closing out a two sets to love lead with Tursunov retiring at the start of the next set. He faces Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.
Alizé Cornet def. Heather Watson 6-4 6-4
This was always going to be a tough ask for the Brit, and while both Heather Watson and Alizé Cornet have had mixed fortune this year, Cornet just seemed to be that bit more stable. Breaking Watson at the start of the first set was a blow although there was a flutter of hope as Watson saved three set points at the business end of the first set, before Cornet edged ahead.
The second set was a far more nervy affair, with Cornet breaking once more at the start of the set but with the pair trading breaks a couple of times. Again, a hard fought game which would have put Watson in with a fighting chance to consolidate the break resulted in Cornet maintaining her advantage.
Serving it out just added to Watson’s woes in New York – she has not advanced past the first round now for the seventh straight attempt.
Aleksandra Krunic def. Johanna Konta  6-4 3-6 6-4
With the way she handled the pressure after Andy Murray bowed out in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, while Johanna Konta made the semi-final for the first time, she would have been a sure bet to be in the later stages again.
It looked as though it was going so swimmingly as well. She started well, jumping to a 4-1 lead and it looked as though it was going to be routine before the scrambling Serbian pegged the Brit back. After all that effort though, she surrendered the break somewhat meekly for Konta to wrap up the first set.
It looked like Konta was going to put pedal to the metal, bringing up chances in the first and third games of the second set, but began to get a taste of her own medicine as Krunic started to whittle away at the Brit’s confidence. The errors staked up and though Konta survived an epic game, fending off four break points, her frustration was mounting as Krunic broke and served out the second set with confidence.
First blood went to Krunic in the all important decider, but the trademark Konta grit saw her break straight back. However there would be no way back from the Serbian’s second break of the set. Konta survived from 0/30 down while serving to stay in the match, to force Krunic to serve it out, but there was to be no nerves as she closed the match out on her second match point.
As reported by BBC Sport, Krunic, who had a memorable run in 2014 coming through qualifying to reach the fourth round, admitted that hard work since then had paid off for her.
“Three years ago everything worked out well in that week. Before and after that I was not a hard worker, this year I have been working really hard and I try and cool myself down on the court – I am not sure if it is obvious, it is hard. I am now winning more matches and that is what matters.”
The weight of expectation since Konta made her breakthrough really as far back as her fourth round run (through qualifying no less) in 2015, has mounted with her standout year in 2016. Reaching the semi-final of Wimbledon was a significant milestone, she lost to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-final and to be fair she was never expected to do much on clay so a first round exit at Roland Garros was a surprise in its manner, but not a huge shock.
Konta’s strength these past years is not to live or die by her results – and Monday was a perfect example of that.
As per BBC Sport above, she said: “I think not to catastrophise is important. It is a tennis match. It’s a sport. I think to have a healthy perspective on that, in general, goes a long way.”
“I don’t think I necessarily played my best tennis, but my opponent also had something to say about that,” she continued.
“She played very freely, I felt, and she moved incredibly well. She made it very tough for me to be able to get any easier points. I don’t take anything for granted. I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in the second week.”
Konta will rely on a strong showing in the Asia-Pacific swing with the big events in Tokyo and Wuhan next on her schedule in September.
Edmund and Norrie will play their second round matches on Wednesday.
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