awith her timing and range as she rapidly went 0-3 down while the American capitalised. Although she got herself on the board, it was the briefest of respites as Vania King ran away with the first set.
The American is a handy doubles player and her court coverage really tested Konta’s movement and variety to the limit. What was interesting was her coaching interaction with new coach Wim Fissette. Over the past year we have been accustomed to seeing the softly spoken, quietly encouraging Esteban Carril picking and choosing his points carefully and delivering them calmly.
Fissette adopted much of the same sort of body language in terms of crouching at knee height, key points and an encouraging delivery, and sure enough Konta began to figure out a way to deal with King after going down another break at the start of the second set.
Gradually she found her range with some blistering shots, playing King at her own game in terms of angles around the court, rewarded with two straight breaks of serve before levelling the match. At the start of the third set it was Konta’s turn to put the pressure on, staying ahead by a single break advantage, before breaking at the end of the set, before serving for the match.
Shenzhen has not been the best of openers for the Brit, and this is the furthest she has come in the tournament, and with the prospect of some big points to defend in Melbourne, matches like these are key for the Brit.
She said, on court after the match: “All credit to Vania – she played a very good match, especially in the first set. She came out of the box really strong and didn’t give me much of a chance to get a grip on the match. I’m definitely most happy to have been able to get myself back into the match. I fought well, tried to create my own momentum and was able to raise my level a bit and maybe she dropped hers a little as well.”
She will face either Kristina Pliskova or Chang Kai-Chen in the next round – she trails the Czech 0-1 and leads Chang 1-0 in their respective head to head records, but both matches were a while ago. Pliskova got the better of her in the Nottingham 75K on the ITF circuit in 2014, before her build-up and breakthrough years of 2015 and last year, while the Brit beat Chang in US Open qualies all the way back in 2012.
A lot has changed for Konta since then with Chang having more recently stuck to the ITF circuit with just a smattering of WTA Tour level events. Pliskova ended 2016 with a couple of titles in the bag (Tashkent and Dalian). On paper this should be a winnable match against either player for the British No. 1 as she looks to consolidate her place in the World Top 10.
Konta will be scheduled for her quarter-final on Thursday.
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