Venus Williams  def. Johanna Konta  6-1 3-6 6-1
With each game played on the unpredictable surface, Johanna Konta is improving, but it was a real test against Venus Williams, former champion and on a resurgent wave this season.
Williams was blisteringly quick off the mark on probably the hottest day of the tournament so far, and in truth it was not as though Konta was even playing badly, but Williams was in the zone.
A break before the first sit-down and another after Konta managed to get herself on the board made certain of the first set, and prompted the calming influence of Wim Fissette to come down and help Konta make sense of it all.
Konta needed to stop rushing – sometimes when the games start rattling off away from her there is a tendency to snatch at shots, but clay requires patience to earn your chances.
Onto the second set and the holds were not coming any easier with Williams denied a chance to break before the first change of ends, and with Konta earning herself just a second break point chance in the match, but again Williams managed to get herself out of trouble.
Perseverance paid off though for Konta after a long game where she finally converted on her fourth break point of the game, consolidating for the set. But the third set was almost a mirror image of the first with Williams putting pedal to the metal.
She said, after also bowing out in the doubles: “I think I definitely kept improving, as well. I think with each match that I have played, I think I am playing better and better.
“I think what [Venus] did better than me, she played a more consistent, high-level match. I think my level kind of dipped in and out; whereas she was able to maintain it. And therefore, if you drop your level a little bit against players like Venus, it makes your job very, very hard.”
Konta’s match play quality has been higher this year
With the addition of two Fed Cup matches on the surface as well, Konta heads into the French Open with some solid time on the dirt, including doubles court time here with Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund, who ended her Madrid campaign in the opening round
She continued: “I don’t think there is anything necessarily I’m finding super hard. It’s obviously still the same game, still the same lines. It’s not necessarily even sliding. I think it’s more just having that good level of trust in my ability on the surface.
“Good level of trust in my physical ability, as well. I think that also comes with time. I think, although the — I think I have played actually more matches this year than last year. Also, I have played a lot of the good players on this surface. Obviously I played Laura in Madrid who had won Stuttgart the week before. She’s played a lot on the surface. This week I got to play Yulia who is very good on the clay, and Venus, who is Venus.
“Overall, I think it’s a time thing, but I’m looking forward to Paris, looking forward to giving it a go there, to really trying to be there for as long as possible. And if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then I will try next year.”
Roland Garros takes place between 28 May and 11 June.
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