By Ros Satar at the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne
Ons Jabeur def. Johanna Konta  6-3 6-2
EASTBOURNE, UK – Johanna Konta was stunned in straight sets in the third round of Eastbourne by an inspired Ons Jabeur, who talked about how much she admires the Brit.
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Ons Jabeur def. Johanna Konta  6-3 6-2
After the disappointment of the demise of the returning Andy Murray in the doubles, the packed schedule at least offered plenty of British singles action kicked off by British No. 1 Johanna Konta.
In fact it looked like it could be another routine win for Konta, who broke Ons Jabeur early in the first set, but was pegged back immediately and from there the tide really turned. The Tunisian might not have had particularly potent first serves in but she started hitting crazy angles around the court, and no matter what Konta threw at her, Jabeur had the answer.
With the first set going Jabeur’s way, the momentum stayed firmly on her side of the net with an immediate break in the first game of the second set, and then a second mid-way through the set seemed to seal Konta’s fate.
After the match Konta said: “I think I just played an opponent who played very well today. I didn’t feel like I actually did too much wrong. Actually, I don’t think I did anything wrong. There [are] very few things I could have tried differently or more of, but to be honest, I actually thought I did quite well in the amount of questions I asked my opponent today, and she just was answering them every time.
“I tried to obviously sometimes slow down the balls a bit because I know she absorbs pace very well. And then I tried to speed it up, because I tried to get at it that way. I tried to sometimes go through the middle a bit more. She was moving around the ball quite well. So then I tried to move it out wide. She was moving well out wide (smiling). So then I tried to use slower slices. I tried to use faster slices. I actually thought I varied my serve quite well. I went through pretty much every serve I can hit.”
This represents a change from Konta’s routine over the past few years. With early exits in Paris, she has had the time to get in a lot of grass court practice, turning up at Nottingham, Birmingham and then usually having a decent run on home turf in Eastbourne, but she will head to Wimbledon with five matches and three wins under her belt.
She continued: “I’m in the place that I am, and I feel good in the place that I am. I don’t really compare it to two years ago, because it’s just not relevant. I’m working on different things. Yeah, just different. Yeah, I feel in a good place, in the best place possible to do the best that I can.”
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For Jabeur, she believes that breaking Konta straight back changed her fortunes around, before adding that she has felt inspired by the British No. 1.
She said: “I think that that was the key of the match, to wake up during the match. She served really good. It’s tough to break her. But I think I was thinking in the match, just go forward, hit the ball hard. Because it’s tough on the grass to return these kind of shots.
“For me, that was the key to have, I think, more possibilities to break her during the first set and the second set. It worked pretty good. So, I’m really happy with that. The serve was not the best, but I’m kind of happy how I only got broken once in the match. Looking forward for the next match will be better.
“[Konta] made semi-final once in Wimbledon, I think it was two years ago. I mean, I like how she is all the time making the same routines in the serve, how she’s always focused even if she’s missing. She doesn’t get angry or negative on the court.
“I like her. She’s one of the best players I like on tour. She’s the nicest outside the court, on the court. And she’s a fair player. She really inspires me. Because I cannot do the same routine all the time. I get fed up. So, I mean, I honestly appreciate players like this.”
She will face Alizé Cornet next, and despite a bad fall one year at Wimbledon shaking her confidence, she feels she has the game to do some damage on the court.
She continued: “She has more experience than me, but I feel like grass is my field, my kind of court. I like to do kind of stuff. So, I think it’s going to be a pretty good match.”
Play continues at the Nature Valley International at 11am BST.
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