Big ask for Konta as she faces a better-form Halep in the Miami Open QF

 

By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [10] v Simona Halep [3]
  • H2H: 1-1
MIAMI, USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta faces a more confident Simona Halep after the Romanian snapped her streak of no back to back wins this season, at the Miami Open.

 

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Johanna Konta looked to have gotten over a few little battles in this US hard court spring as she faces a player that has struggled with injury and maybe a little self-belief at times.

After a tough opener against qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich, following a tough loss in Indian Wells against Caroline Garcia, Konta was maybe struggling tp regain that confident exterior she often presents.

After all, time and again in 2016 we saw her come through tight three set matches, gaining in confidence as she closed out some very key wins that saw her catapult up the rankings to land, at the end of the year, in the World Top 10.

However, as we have sometimes seen with Simona Halep, it is a different story when you go from being the hunter to the hunted. For a while now, Halep has come up with goods sometimes, but failed to recapture that amazing form that took her to her first Grand Slam final in 2014.

Her season this year has been marred with injury and with that an inevitable lack of confidence, which has shown in some of her results, and more importantly her (lack of) interaction with coach Darren Cahill.

Yet Miami seems to have been the turnaround point for the scrappy aggressor who (when fit) can scamper around with the best of them running everything down and packing a huge punch.

Her opener with Naomi Osaka delivered a three set battle, and she fought from a set down against Sam Stosur to set up this clash. Their head to head is tight with Konta claiming the most recent honours in Wuhan 2015 as her own pace was picking up to that fantastic break-out year in 2016.

Of course their first meeting in Fed Cup three years ago (which Halep won easily in straight sets) sets up a fascinating preview to what we might expect in a couple of weeks when GB head to Halep’s own turf on their bid to qualify for World Group II.

Psychologically there could be a lot more on the line that just Konta defending last year’s points and indeed bettering them.

Halep will look to dictate from the back of the court, and she obviously has a little more confidence this week in her movement and more importantly her will to fight, which has sometimes strangely checked out for a vacation this season.

To go with that she can serve well, and will send the ball flat and deep to try and keep Konta pinned at the back of the court. Of course the Brit can pack a punch with her serve and has generally solid groundies to support that.

While it has been a good start with new coach Wim Fissette with the Sydney title and a veritable rout of Agnieszka Radwanska, the quiet calm she always exuded slipped just a little in Indian Wells. It is rare to get a subdued and genuinely gutted Konta in press – she is normally very adept at putting her losses into exceptionally articulate perspective.

That has returned in the last couple of matches, and she appears to be more on an even keel, and there is a sense she will be giving very much as good as she will get from this match.

This has the hallmarks of being a three set scrap to really get our teeth into.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

 

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