Konta & Watson – R1 Olympic Previews


By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [10] v Stephanie Vogt
  • Heather Watson v Peng Shuai
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL – Johanna Konta will make her Olympic debut, with Heather Watson making her second Olympic appearance when play starts in the Tennis event.


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Johanna Konta [10] v Stephanie Vogt – H2H: Konta leads 1-0

Liechtenstein offers up World No. 290 Vogt to fly the flag in the Olympic tennis, where she will come face to face with British No. 1 and 10th seed, Konta for the second time in their professional careers.

That being said, it has been quite some time ago, when in 2012 the then World No. 263 beat a player ranked 33 places above her in straight sets in the Bath 25K.

Obviously a lot has happened since then, and Konta’s rise through the ranks, together with a number of withdrawals sees the World No. 13 bumped up to No. 10 in the seedings, and a pretty kind opener.

Konta’s serving has been pretty exemplary especially at the start of the summer hard court season, coupled with solid ground strokes. Vogt can serve and back it up with a good forehand but obviously since making her debut in 2004 she has stuck to the lower tiers, and tour level qualification events.

What she does have over Konta is that she was a wildcard in the London 2012 Olympics, but lost in the opening round. Her only main draw appearance was this year as a qualifier in Nurnberg, although she has a WTA doubles title to her name.

On paper this is a good start for Konta, who should be expected to coast through her opener with ease. She has played extremely well in her hard court summer so far, winning her maiden title in Stanford, and finally ending a seven match winning spree since Wimbledon n the Montreal quarter-finals.

Prediction: Konta in two sets.




Heather Watson v Peng Shuai – H2H: Peng leads 2-0

Back at perhaps a her best season in 2011, when she has her first Top 20 season, Peng ruled the roost against Watson, who was starting her year just inside the Top 200, beating her in Auckland, before meeting the Brit again, by now in the Top 100 in Birmingham.

Since then both have had to contend with injury and illness issues – Watson suffered from the effects of glandular fever which saw her drop from the Top 50 to just outside the Top 100 once more. For Peng, after staying consistently in the Top 50 and finishing just outside the Top 20 in 2014, she spend most of 2015 battling with injury.

After reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, she was out for two and a half months with a back injury missing all the hard court spring and returning in time for Madrid and Roland Garros before being out for the rest of the season with a back injury.

Now outside the World Top 250, Peng made her return for the first time since last year’s French Open in Indian Wells and actually won a round in Miami, but her victories have mainly come on the lower circuit, making one ITF final and two quarter-finals before first round exits in Nottingham, Birmingham and Wimbledon.

Watson has not been devoid of injuries this year – she has suffered with abdominal strains since the start of the year, and at times has lacked consistency, losing a few heartbreakers along the way. That being said, she won her third WTA title in Monterrey.

Peng plays deep and flat, but Watson possesses very strong defensive skills, and has spent a lot of time working on her more aggressive play. Both move well, and Peng is solid at the net, but Watson has also been putting a lot of time on the doubles court, so this could be a lot closer than perhaps Watson would like as a starter.

The Brit can have a tendency to make things quite hard for herself although she will be desperate to go better than the second round of the Olympics.

Prediction: Watson in three sets.

Watson v Peng is scheduled not before 12:30pm (4:30pm BST) on Saturday 6 August with Konta most likely scheduled for Sunday (Time to be confirmed)