MADRID, SPAIN – Both British No. 1s were bundled out Madrid with straight sets losses as Johanna Konta fell to two-time champion Simona Halep, and Kyle Edmund lost to Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini.
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Fabio Fognini  def. Kyle Edmund 6-4 6-3
Still looking troubled and hobbled with tape and an awkward gait, Fabio Fognini could have been ripe for the taking by Kyle Edmund, and while it was good to see the Brit unleash on his forehand, it misfired often enough for him to rue a ton of missed chances to claim the scalp of the Monte Carlo champion.
Fognini struck first breaking Edmund, who responded in kind as they started to test the waters. Edmund might have been troubled at his inability to convert on three break point chances, but Fognini squandered four chances to do the same in the next game. However, it was Fognini who found a way past this impasse, breaking Edmund to love, and then serving out for the first set just as comfortably.
The second set saw plenty of break point chances for both players going begging. Fognini was the first and indeed last to convert breaking in the middle of the set for the lead, and with Edmund’s chances going begging, Fognini finished it off breaking for the match.
This seemed a lot more spirited from Edmund than we have seen of late, but with a fourth straight loss for the Brit, he will be keen to redress the balance in Rome in the final preparations ahead of Roland Garros.
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Simona Halep  def. Johanna Konta 7-5 6-1
This was always going to be a tough ask for the British No. 1 Johanna Konta against a two-time champion in Madrid, and the reigning Roland Garros champion Simona Halep. However, come the start of the match you could be forgiven for wondering who the more natural clay-courter was.
Konta was the first one to break with her serve firing well at the start of the match, and catching the Romanian napping just a touch. Halep looked a little rattled as she tried to get into some kind of rhythm, and with a few errors creeping into Konta’s game, Halep managed to break back to bring it to 4-4.
Konta was not going to let the set go without a fight and having been in the position of 4-2 up, she not only found herself serving to stay in the first set, but had to deflect a couple of set points. Frustratingly though, she could not convert on three break point chances of her own to reclaim the lead.
Halep did still have to toil, finally converting on her fifth set point. With the momentum on her side, Halep proceeded at quite a tear, reeling off a 4-0 lead before Konta was able to temporarily stop the rot and get on the board. Halep’s response was to break once more before serving out for the match and a spot in the third round.
There is no doubt there is a lot more confidence in Konta’s movement on clay, and she is even getting better at the drop-shots which saw even a gritty scrambler like Halep struggle to make the sprint from the back of the court to the front effectively.
On to Rome and the conditions will be a little bit closer to those in Paris, and another chance to get some much needed, confidence-building wins under her belt in the hope she will finally break the Roland Garros first round duck.
Edmund and Konta will next play the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, which takes place between 12-19 May.
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