Johanna Konta in R1 of the Australian Open 2018
Johanna Konta in R1 of the Australian Open 2018 (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Wildcard Konta kicks off Dubai campaign against Pavlyuchenkova

By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [7/WC] v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
  • First meeting between the pair
DUBAI, UAE – Johanna Konta has picked up a wildcard into Dubai and another chance to get some matches under her belt before the US hard court spring.


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Johanna Konta [7/WC] v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova | H2H: First Meeting

Having taken the fight to an in-form Angelique Kerber forcing Kerber to come back from a set down, there were plenty of positives but still a lot of room to manoeuvre for Johanna Konta. It is good that she has taken the wildcard – it was looking to be a slight break in proceedings between Doha and Indian Wells but perhaps what Konta needs is more testing matches.

It is not an exaggeration that more was expected from the start of the year, but a hip injury in Brisbane and two early exits in Sydney and Melbourne were far from ideal. However she showed great fight in Fed Cup, and at the Australian Open, she hinted that the match wins were much needed.

We can expect the poor yellow fluffies to get a bit of a battering at the hands of this pair. Meeting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the first time, the Russian has a fair serve and is pretty solid off both wings, and we can expect Konta to try and impose her aggressive game on proceedings.

On paper this is winnable for Konta, and she seems to have gained more confidence than her state of mind towards the end of last year, and has spoken of the different Michael Joyce has made, coming at things from a former player’s perspective.

However, there still seems to be some groundwork to cover with this pairing, and so it is probably not unexpected to see this going the distance – Pavlyuchenkova has yet to string together any back to back wins, stretching back to her title win in Hong Kong, in October.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Konta and Pavlyuchenkova are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 8:30pm (4:30pm GMT)


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