This time around as a seed, and perhaps with a target on her own back, she has so far bashed through the field as ruthlessly as she ever has, rounding out a straight sets win over Zhang. The last time they met there was a lot on the line – both having reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time. There Konta had to deal with a competitive opening set before Zhang fell away.
This time around while she was not as dominating as she had been in her opening round, against Annika Beck, she still led the way, breaking the home crowd favourite three times in the first set, and only relinquishing her own serve once per set, as she made her break for the border late in the second set.
She was constantly putting the Chinese player under pressure in the second set, but her opponent’s resolve was a lot better, until the final few games, with Zhang breaking Konta back once.
Of course she heads up the race for the second tier season ending championships ladder along with Madison Keys, but a strong run on the Asian swing could at least put her on a plane as an alternate for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Also standing in her way in the race to Singapore is her next opponent. In a first time meeting, she will face the Spaniard whose modus operandi is to largely fly under the radar and causing good players trouble deeper in tournaments.
With the benefit of a bye in to the second round, the Spaniard eased past Yanina Wickmayer in her opening round, for her first win since the US Open, after bowing out to Halep in New York, and being a victim of the resurgent Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo.
Suárez Navarro is possessed of a very effective single handed backhand, and has a good sense of variety in her shot-making – and thus will present Konta with a tough challenge. Konta has good movement on her side, and her mentality allows her almost to compartmentalise any frustration and she can expect to be made to work hard for this one if she wants to match last year’s run.
She is maybe a little match sharper by virtue of being a lower seed here, and could spring a victory, but we expect she will have to battle hard for it.
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
Konta and Suárez Navarro are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 3:30pm (7:30am BST).
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