Konta kicks off grass court season in style


By Ros Satar

  • Wins in Nottingham and s’Hertogenbosch for Johanna Konta & Aljaz Bedene
  • Packed day of Brits in action on Tuesday in Nottingham with Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Naomi Broady and Tara Moore all in action

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAD – British No. 1 Johanna Konta kicked off the grass court season in style with a straight sets win, with Aljaz Bedene repeating the feat in The Netherlands.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules


Johanna Konta def. Vicky Duval 6-3 6-0 – H2H with Zheng Saisai: Konta leads 2-0

Konta celebrated her ascent into the World Top 20 this week with a win over Vicky Duval in the first round at the Aegon Open, Nottingham. Although her clay court season was nothing to write home about this year, Konta rose to career high of No. 18, becoming the first British woman to do so since Jo Durie.

Despite going an early break down, Konta’s trademark resilience kicked in as she broke back to put things back on serve, before going on to win ten games in a row to book her place in the second round, with a 6-3 6-0 win. She will meet Zheng in the second round. The Chinese player beat British wildcard Freya Christie in straight sets.

She played a composed match against Zheng this year at the Australian Open, along with a win in French Open qualification three years ago, so this will be an interesting match-up on a totally different surface.

Konta’s run on the grass tournaments, with thanks to LTA wild-cards last year helped set up this surge up the rankings. Her experience on the surfaces and across the tournaments that the UK has to offer far outweighs Zheng’s who has never made it past the first round of the main draw in this country.

Prediction: Konta in two sets.


Laura Robson v Michelle Larcher de Brito – First Meeting

This could be a dangerous encounter for the returning Robson. She lost a three-setter against Daniela Hantuchova in a 50K in Eastbourne, and Larcher de Brito has come through the qualifying rounds here in Nottingham, including a tight three-setter against Andrea Hlavackova.

Things are improving for Robson – she has not felt pain in her wrist and her movement and match sharpness is improving, but obviously the adjustment from clay to grass has to come, and this could be a tough opener for the Brit.

Prediction: Robson in three sets.


Naomi Broady v Su-Wei Hsieh – Hsieh leads 1-0.

This is a fantastic line-up for anyone coming to watch in Nottingham, and Broady will want to get a small measure of revenge for her one defeat (on grass, no less) in a $75K in Nottingham 4 years ago. Broady is a much improved player, but what she needs now is the results to back up her place in the Top 100.

Not that long ago she was hot on the heels on Heather Watson for the British No. 2 spot, and both players come straight in off the clay, so there is no immediate advantage to be had.

Grass is probably not the favoured surface for either player and with just nine places in the ranking, this is a perfect time to make her booming serve work for her.

Prediction: Broady in three sets.


Heather Watson [6] v Magdalena Rybarikova – H2H: Watson leads 1-0

Now assured of her Olympic place, Watson had admitted that she had been a bag of nerves before each match with that on the line. Now back on grass, and advancing back up the rankings, she starts against Rybarikova who has been struggling with a back injury picked up at Indian Wells.

Having retired in her comeback match in a $100K, she struggled in her opener against Serena Williams at the French Open.

Watson may not have had the best run on the clay, but her grass court pedigree is fairly steady, but Rybarikova is not without some good results in the past, especially in the UK, so if the Slovakian is getting back to full strength this will not be a complete walkover.

Prediction: Watson in two sets.


Quick Hits

  • Aljaz Bedene had a competitive first set against qualifier Ernesto Escobedo, before dominating the second set 7-6(5) 6-2, in the Ricoh Open in s’Hertogenbosch.
  • Tara Moore was the only Brit to come through qualifying in Nottingham and will face Donna Vekic in the first round of the main draw
  • There were losses in the final round of qualifying for Katie Boulter (defeated by Zhang Kai-Lin 6-0 6-1) in Nottingham, and James Ward (defeated by Radek Stepanek 6-2 6-1) in Stuttgart.


Play starts at 11am in Nottingham