By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [4] def. Heather Watson 6-4 7-6(5)
  • Katie Boulter [WC] def. Samantha Stosur [WC] 7-6(6) 6-1
  • Konta faces Dalila Jakupovic and Boulter faces top seed Ashleigh Barty in the quarter-finals
NOTTINGHAM, UK – The Brits are still going strong as British No. 1 Johanna Konta, and wildcard Katie Boulter advanced to the quarter-finals at the Nature Valley Open.

 

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Johanna Konta [4] def. Heather Watson 6-4 7-6(5)

With the British No. 1 Johanna Konta and British No. 2 Heather Watson arriving looking to gain some form on the grass, it was just their second encounter with a Brit guaranteed a place in the last eight.

Neither have had a stellar year, but on a surface they both excel on and on home turf (literally), the pair were very competitive at the start before Konta just played a sharper game to break Watson once. The British No. 2 had a couple of immediate chances of her own to break back but could not convert, with Konta sticking to her advantage and serving out the first set.

Heather Watson in the second round of the Nature Valley Open, WTA Nottingham 2018

Heather Watson in the second round of the Nature Valley Open, WTA Nottingham 2018 | (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA)

Tides turned in the second set with Watson getting the upper-hand early on for a 3-1 lead, but was pegged back by Konta, who hung on to force a tie-break. Going ahead at the start, although Watson would gain mini-breaks back, she could never quite get her nose in front again, with Konta closing out the match.

Konta said, in her on-court interview: “It is definitely not easy for either of us, and the conditions made it that much harder as well. It’s never easy to play a compatriot, so I just tried to keep the focus on my side of the court and be competitive with myself.

“Throughout the whole match, I felt quite consistent in my approach and I carried that all the way through to the tie-break. That helped me get a few chances and I was fortunate enough to take that first one.”

 

Konta v Dalila Jakupovic | First meeting

Konta managed well in the blustery conditions to stay on top of her game and was advancing forward a lot. Given that last year Dalila Jakupovic had mainly been plying her trade on the lower tiers of the tour, this year has seen a decent run on the clay of Bogota to the semi-final and playing through qualies at Roland Garros, albeit going out in the first round.

She outhit Camila Giorgi in the first round and Konta can expect a few bombs to be coming at her on this surface. The Brit will need her serves to be working well again to gain a few free points, and on paper of course should pick this win off, but often if playing someone for the first time, it can take her a while to figure things out.

Prediction: Konta in straight sets.

 

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Katie Boulter [WC] def. Samantha Stosur [WC] 7-6(6) 6-1

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In the battle of the wildcards, Katie Boulter claimed another more experienced scalp on the tour, taking out Samantha Stosur to set up another Brit/Aussie clash, this time with top seed Ashleigh Barty.

Stosur, who is not exactly renowned for her skills on the green stuff found herself quickly behind the curve, but pegged the young Brit back, with the pair trading breaks on their way to a taut tie-break.

With Boulter edging the first set, the momentum stayed with the hone-crowd favourite, breaking Stosur twice to close out a far more comfortable second set.

 

Boulter v Ashleigh Barty [1] | First Meeting

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It is a tough ask for the Brit to come out and claim another top scalp – especially as Barty described every match at Roland Garros as another day closer to the grass! It is a surface that suits an all-courter like Barty and she has a mean slice and a kick serve. Together with her forehand, that can generate angles with all manner of pace and spin, her general doubles prowess and variety means she seems to be all over the court, all at the same time.

We can expect Boulter to battle hard, but this looks like it is Barty’s in the bag.

Prediction: Barty in straight sets.

Barty and Boulter are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 12:30pm, followed by Konta and Jakupovic, not before 2pm (all times BST).

Main Image: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

 

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