Johanna Konta [7/WC] def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(2) 6-2
Faces Daria Kasatkina next and leads their head to head 1-0
Lucky Loser Cameron Norrie tests Hyeon Chung but falls in Delray Beach
DUBAI, UAE – Johanna Konta became the first British woman to win a main draw match in Dubai as she set up a round two clash with Daria Kasatkina.
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Johanna Konta [7/WC] v Daria Kasatkina
British No. 1 Johanna Konta’s long trek back to confidence marched forward a few more paces with a decent battle against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The first set looked like it would be a win (at last) for the Russian who has yet to have back to back wins since winning the Hong Kong title in October last year.
Pavlyuchenkova was the first to break, but Konta dug in not only to break back, but to hang onto a lengthy game fending off three more break points. As Pavlyuchenkova got more and more down on herself after being out in front, Kota grew in confidence, speeding through the first set tie-break.
With the momentum firmly on her side, Konta broke straight away at the start of the second, and by the time she broke once more for a 4-1 lead, it began to look like a foregone conclusion, leaving cleanly for the match to love.
Konta v Daria Kasatkina | H2H: Konta leads 1-0
If we are talking about shifts in momentum being key, Daria Kasatkina rode a virtual rollercoaster as she got past Agnieszka Radwanska with five breaks of serve between the pair of them in the first set, and no less than seven in the second set.
If Konta is expecting a tough battle from a young player for whom much is expected, then we could well be in for another rollercoaster.
The Russian plays quite cleverly and will look to mix up the looks on the ball – slices, lifts and has pretty good feel, as well as good movement. Given that Konta’s confidence in her drive volleys at times seemed to be on the wane in her opener, she could find herself getting pulled into the net more and more – it can either be kill or cure. Konta is a good confidence player – we saw that a lot last year, and the grittier wins she can get as she works to build that confidence back up the better.
She got past the Russian fairly comfortably in Sydney on her way to the title, and while her form is on the up compared to the end of last year, the Russian has the semi-final in St Petersburg under her belt.
This is unlikely to be a simple match and Kasatkina can certainly pull off the surprise, but we would give a slight edge to Konta.
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
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There is no denying that Cameron Norrie is making the most of these chances coming up this year. The undoubted hero of the Davis Cup, despite GB’s loss to Spain, he had the element of surprise once more as he took the first set off the ATP Next Gen Finals champion and Australian Open semi-finalist Hyeon Chung.
Norrie was rewarded for his persistence, first in breaking Chung and holding on to the advantage, finally converting on his fifth set point after failing to break the Korean for the set. It was not surprising that Chung would be a bit rusty after the blisters that caused him to retire in his Australian Open semi-final, but he sound found his match legs in the second set, coming back from an immediate break to Norrie to break the Brit twice on the way to level the match.
From there it was just one way traffic for Chung – Norrie just one game on the board at the start as Chung reeled off six games in a row.
Konta and Kasatkina are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 7pm (3pm GMT).
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