ACAPULCO, MEXICO – British interest is large in Acapulco, with British Nos. 1 and 2, Johanna Konta and Heather Watson at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, together with British No. 2 Aljaz Bedene in the ATP tournament.
Johanna Konta v Anett Kontaveit – H2H: First meeting
Hyperbole aside, Konta’s rise through the ranks since the start of the year was not as much a flash in the pan as people might think. Way back in the grass-court summer, she started to gather momentum with a run to the final of Eastbourne, knocking off Top 20 players Ekaterina Makarova and Garbiñe Muguruza along the way.
The Spaniard was down for two losses as Konta consolidated that with a dash to the US Open fourth round with three rounds of qualifying to boot.
More big names scattered in the autumn adding Andrea Petkovic to her casualty list a couple of times and the World No. 2 Simona Halep in Wuhan – the promise was always there. It just all came together magically in Australia.
Konta is pragmatic, quirky even. British mainline press may have wanted to go after her for her sharp and dry sense of humour as shown on Jonathan Ross, but the man himself put paid to any misinterpretations himself.
But it shows the currency Konta now has and it will be interesting to see how she handles it, and the potential pressure of being a fourth seed and thus expected to at least make it to the semi-finals.
She performed her best in Melbourne as she was almost always the underdog. Here, she starts as very much the favourite against World No. 91.
Although the Estonian had a better warm up than Konta, she came up against a solid wall in Muguruza in her opening round and hasn’t played since Melbourne. Admittedly neither has Konta, but if she can serve solidly and meet Kontaveit’s aggressive style of play with some of her own, she should advance.
Heather Watson v Christina McHale – H2H: McHale leads 2-1
It is not as good a match up for the British No. 2 who trails the American in their head to head, although it is worth noting that McHale’s two victories were on clay, and Watson won their last encounter in an ITF event and they last met three years ago.
Watson would have hoped to go better in the Australian Open, losing a heartbreaker in the deciding set, and did her best to help propel the British Fed Cup team out of the group stages.
Watson may have slipped down the rankings but can still definitely punch above her weight. She has looked to add more aggressive play to her arsenal, but she know when to drop back to the defence that her speed and agility lends itself to.
Watson needs a few wins behind her as we approach the hard court spring and Acapulco could be a great proving ground, not to mention potentially give us a British 1-2 quarter-final but first things first.
McHale has an aggressive style of play off the baseline but has a tendency to rely on her forehand and could be vulnerable on her backhand side. Watson has good court smarts and needs to be tenacious to level her head to head here, and with some solid serving (an area that she has been working on) should come through but we could expect a tight three-setter.
Konta and Kontaveit play on Monday not before 7pm (1am GMT, Tuesday). Watson and McHale are likely to be scheduled on Tuesday.
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