EASTBOURNE, UK – British No. 1 Johanna Konta is back in action against the top seed and last year’s runner-up Caroline Wozniacki at the Nature Valley International.
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Johanna Konta  def. Aleksandra Krunic 6-1 6-3
There was intrigue with the match-up that started a slide in form for British No. 1 Johanna Konta at the end of last year. Highly topped to start another successful US Open campaign, the rapid court coverage and precision of the diminutive Serbian Aleksandra Krunic undid Konta who would not pick up a win for the rest of the year.
However, on grass and in her home town it was always going to be a different prospect. Both players were coming into the match in form. Konta had started the season with a run to the Nottingham final, while Krunic won the title in Rosmalen.
Konta started predictably fast and her more aggressive play was rewarded on the surface, as she raced through the first set, but a slip at the net seemed to affect Krunic who had a lengthy medical time-out to tape up her knee. She was broken twice as before for Konta to claim her opening win in straight sets.
Konta said, after the match: , I was just happy I played quite a consistent match. I think my approach to how I wanted to play my points and how I wanted to construct them I think was quite clear and I kept sticking to that even when it didn’t go my way. It was quite tricky out there. It was pretty gusty, and I know she can play well, she can play well on this surface having won ‘s-Hertogenbosch coming into here so I think overall I’m just happy I was able to keep my level as I wanted it.”
Her volleying was key with her drive volley winners proving more than effective on the grass, and a couple of more deft touches at the net.
She continued: “I think I’m definitely looking to move forward a bit more. I think this surface also can accentuate it a bit, however I’m just definitely looking forward to take advantage of that side of my game. It’s something I believe I can do well. the more I do it, the better I’ll end up doing it as well.”
Konta came out on top of the reigning Australian Open champion and last year’s runner-up Caroline Wozniacki in Miami to win the biggest title of her career so far last year. Not that she remembered that at first, needing a little prod to remind her that her harder-hitting game has so far had Wozniacki beaten.
“I recall the Australian Open, I don’t remember Miami (laughing). I mean to be fair both matches were a lot closer than the score-lobe. She’s a very tough competitor. I just go out there and look to do what I do in pretty much every match that I play.
That’s looking to move forward and being brave. I wouldn’t say that it’s about match-ups. I think I’m going to be playing tomorrow on tomorrow’s challenge and not necessarily on how it went the previous two times that I played her. Like I said she’s also playing really well. She’s a Grand Slam champion this year and I think that’s a massive monkey off her back so I’ sure she’s going to be playing freely.”
Wozniacki has lost none of her abilities to switch from defence to attack, and this Is a tournament that has suited her very well in the past, so she too has a degree of comfort playing at Devonshire Park. However, grass does also reward those who take the initiative and Konta was certainly exploting that against Krunic.
This is probably not going to be as straight forward, and we ought to expect Konta to be out there on a hot afternoon for a while. But with the benefit of a lot of matches now under her belt – perhaps she has a slight edge.
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
Wozniacki and Konta are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 2pm (BST).
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