Johanna Konta  v Wang Qiang – H2H: Wang leads 1-0
Konta has a chance to redress the balance against Wang in the second round in Hong Kong. While the name may not be totally familiar to all, the Chinese player picked up a famous win at the season opener in Shenzhen this year when (ranked 100) she took out Konta, fifth seed and just inside the Top 50.
Wang has plied her trade for most of this year working through either the qualifying rounds of some of the bigger tournaments or dropping back down to the ITF circuit to build up momentum, making the finals in four of them and winning three titles this year.
Her Asian swing though has been a stark contract to Konta’s – she did not get out of the qualifying rounds of Tokyo and Wuhan, and lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the opening round of Beijing, so her win in the first round will have been welcome.
Add to that her win over Konta at the start of the year and surely she will fancy her chances – and she is not a stranger to throwing in an upset. She bounced former Australian Open semi-finalist Sloane Stephens in the opening round having warmed up nicely through qualies so she is not to be taken lightly.
Konta, meanwhile, will be having to fend off the endless stats-running of who needs to win what to get to Singapore. This is, of course, an area she has excelled in over the past few years, with the results plan for all to see with her cracking the Top 10.
What she has been doing well this swing is playing aggressively and coming forward. Her volleys have been much sharper in Beijing, and there is no doubt that on paper, she ought to win this – but we can expect her to try and start with authority.
Similarly to Konta, Wang has spoken in the past of her need to build up her confidence, and with that her consistency. Just based on Konta’s progression this year, she has to have the edge to equal their head to head.
Do not adjust your screens! Watson has a chance to extend her head to head lead over Wozniacki and allow herself the luxury of finishing the season with a bit of a flourish. Her battle against her former doubles partner Marina Erakovic was a close affair, and for so many matches this year, Watson had come out on the wrong end of tough battles that should have been winnable.
However do not let the head to head fool you – Wozniacki’s resurgence at the tail end of the year has been good to see, in a year marred by injuries and a struggle to get some momentum back. Her hard court summer started strongly with the semi-final of the US Open, and continued her title winning tradition in Tokyo.
Wozniacki’s ability to turn her defensive skills into more attacking play are exactly wat Watson will need to mirror. The Brit actually can do exactly the same thing, but what has been lacking is consistency, and right now Wozniacki is on a bit of a roll, as opposed to the rollercoaster that Watson has been on.
On her day Watson can out-grit a lot of players, but Wozniacki has the capability of grinding down anyone. Watson will have to be on song with her serve – an area she has worked on, as well as her attacking play, but not be afraid of reverting to defence if she needs to. She has good court smarts, but we have to wonder whether a little of her self-belief has been eroded with some of her health issues in the latter half of the year.
Prediction: Wozniacki in three sets.
Konta and Wang are scheduled on Centre court at 3pm (8am BST) followed by Watson and Wozniacki, not before 4pm (9am BST).
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