Neck injury forced Konta to retire in final qualifying round, but can she make this second chance count?
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – It looked as though Johanna Konta’s chances for more match time ended in qualification with injury, but she comes into the main draw as a lucky loser against Kiki Bertens.
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Johanna Konta [LL] v Kiki Bertens | H2H: Konta leads 2-1
After a solid win over Sloane Stephens in Brisbane, it looked as though things were back on the up for Johanna Konta, but a rematch with Ajla Tomljanovic proved to be an early exit. On to Sydney, and Konta’s ranking drop meant she had to come through qualifying – first round was a comfortable win, but a blocked neck in warm-up saw Konta retire 1-4 down in the final qualifying round.
However, the Brit gets a second crack at the main draw as she comes in as a Lucky loser against No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens. It has been a couple of years since they faced each other, with Konta stretching out her head to head lead. However, it is a much improved Bertens that she will be facing. The Dutchwoman shook off her clay court nouse and started to get some very meaningful results on the hard courts – most notable winning Cincinnati and acquitting herself more than admirably at the WTA Finals in Singapore.
A lot will come down to whether Konta has had time to unblock whatever got stuck in her neck! She has already shown that her aggressive style of play and fearlessness in advancing forward (even if those more finesse volleys have us hiding behind the sofa) gets the results against agile players.
Much like Stephens, Bertens has proved to be a more than decent all-rounder – she has great variety, solid court coverage and is a lot sharper at the net, so Konta will have to be at her aggressive best and have that first serve firing well, as that tends to pull the rest of her game together.
Tough ask, but it is a solid chance at one more chance for match-tightness for the Brit.
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