That’s right – on her debut at the US Open in 2012, Konta fought through the qualifying rounds, coming into the draw with a rank of 203 and beating Timea Babos (59) in the first round before falling to Olga Govortsova. The following year she lost in the first round of qualifying and last year she made the main draw and fell in the first round to Shaheer Peer.
Believe it or not, on paper she has actually had more success at Flushing Meadows than Wimbledon finalist Muguruza, who has been bounced out twice in the opening round and already has notched up her best performance in The Big Apple.
But realistically that’s where the form book goes out the window. Konta knows she has the game to beat some of the top players, and proved it time and again over the grass court season, including Muguruza, before her eal love affair with grass began at Wimbledon. The Venezuelan-born Spaniard admitted in press at Wimbledon that she would say to advisor Conchita Martinez that she did not like grass but… turns out she was rather good on it by the end.
Grass court season out of the way, Muguruza struggled to find her hard court legs initially, bundled out of Toronto and Cincinnati, getting her first win since the Wimbledon final here in New York.
Konta had been quite coy at Eastbourne about her future plans and goals after her great run there where she benefitted from wildcards at all the grass court events. Those plans included a couple of ITF events in Canada, yielding 220 ranking points, a couple of titles and a level of match fitness and belief that took her through three rounds of qualifying and first round win.
Judy Murray, watching courtside, said that she believed that Konta had played perhaps the best match she had ever seen in her first round, and she will need to do the same again if she wants to send another seed to the scrapheap on the women’s draw.
Muguruza on paper should walk this, but the pressure of living up to a stellar run at a Slam has a tendency to derail some. Having parted company with her long-term coach Alejo Mancisidor just before the US Open, she is once more seeking guidance for the fortnight from Martinez, whereas Konta spoke warmly over the summer of having a great team around her now, including sports psychology to help her enjoy playing more and not getting too wound up.
She has no expectations on her so expect her to hit free and it would not be a surprise to see this going to three sets, as their other matches have.
Konta and Muguruza are scheduled on Court 17 at 11am (4pm BST).
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