It is a return to the tour after a tough and long summer for the British No. 1 Konta. In that time she won her maiden WTA title, she skipped across to Rio 2016 Olympics where she made her debut with a run to the quarter-final, before matching last year’s achievement of making the fourth round at the US Open.
Along the way though she suffered a total body-shock in the heat and humidity of New York, and has had almost a month off to recharge ahead of the final push to the end of the season, holding steady at her career high of No. 13 in the world.
She faces Beck for the third time where they have split their wins with the most recent coming at the end of last season in Linz. Wuhan was a solid performance for Konta at the end of last year, coming through qualies and reaching the quarter-final where she lost to the eventual champion Venus Williams.
Beck made the Wuhan draw in 2014 as a Lucky Loser, and it has been a bit of a lean year for the German who reached three three quarter-finals and a semi-final on clay but her hard court summer yielded some qualies wins but not much head way in the main draws.
On paper this is Konta’s to win but she may take some time to warm up a little and find her groove.
Heather Watson [Q] v Madison Brengle – H2H: Watson leads 2-0
The last time Watson was on a court in singles, there were high hopes that she could get her first main draw senior win at the US Open, a tournament she won as a junior – but a listless and very out of form Watson struggled with what seemed to be similar symptoms to the after effects of glandular fever which previously stalled her career.
Thankfully the tests seemed to have ruled that out, and her fighting spirit was back in the qualifying rounds, where she won a lopsided affair against Chinese wildcard Liu Chang before getting past Samantha Crawford to book her spot in the main draw.
Now she faces America’s Brengle – and with a 2-0 lead in their head to head, including the Hobart final last year – she ought to feel confident she can come out on top – preferably in straight sets once more.
In truth both players have these moments of consistency followed by up and down spells, and this game is unlikely to be any different. Watson has worked hard on being far more aggressive, but has great defence and perhaps just a little more variety to her game. Still, expect this to be a roller-coaster.
Prediction: Watson in three sets.
Konta and Beck are scheduled second on Court 1, with Watson and Brengle also scheduled second on Court 3, not before 1:30pm (5:30am BST).
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