BIRMINGHAM, UK – Johanna Konta met an in-form defending champion in Petra Kvitova as she bowed out in the opening round.
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Petra Kvitova  def. Johanna Konta 6-3 6-4
Coming in from a strong run in Nottingham and her strongest performance yet this season, the tennis gods saw fit to hand British No. 1 Johanna Konta a tough draw, as she opened up her campaign against defending champion Petra Kvitova.
Despite the Czech admitting that she had felt tired after a phenomenal 13-match winning streak which ended in Roland Garros on the clay, she showed no signs of being rusty as she broke for a 2-0 advantage, before a more match-fit Konta broke back to settle the nerves (hers, probably and everyone else watching).
It was a brief respite for the Brit as Kvitova broke once more. Konta would save one break point and made Kvitova earn the first set as she finally converted on her fourth set point.
It was a more competitive second set, as Konta raise her level, and she had her chances to go 5-4 up but just could not get over the line, before Kvitova added insult to injury breaking straight after, and serving the set out quite straightforwardly.
Konta, who in her pre-tournament press conference likened her match-fitness as being like a shark smelling the blood, had to admit that she was facing not only one of the best grass court players out there but currently one of the best players in the world this season.
She said: “She’s one of the best players in the world right now. I’m not sure where she is in the race, but I’m pretty sure she’s inside the Top 4. I mean, going out there today, I knew I was going to be playing an in-form Petra and there was going to be a very small chance that she was going to go off.
“I think for 90% of the match I was actually quite shoulder to shoulder with her, which was a very positive thing for me. I think that that 10% is what I’m working on right now, to be able to do just that bit better and, yeah, to come through in some of those close moments.”
She continued: “I think she’s probably the only player on tour that regardless of who she plays, most of the match is going to be on her racket. So she’s a very credible player. I mean, again, there were moments where I laugh. I had to smile about it because I did a lot of things right and I wasn’t getting the reward for it. But I think overall I’m pleased with the level I was able to play.”
Kvitova felt she was able to capitalise on Kota’s potential fatigue from having gone deep into a tournament for the first time in a year.
“I think Jo for sure played well on the grass. On the other hand, I think that she was a little bit tired as well. It’s always both sides of it. For sure Jo is playing great on the grass. She
showed it to me in Eastbourne and she beat me. Then she played the semi-finals of Wimbledon. I think definitely it was a good game.”
Play continues at the Nature Valley Classic, from 11:30am.
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