By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [3] v Zheng Saisai – H2H: Konta leads 2-1
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta renews her rivalry with China’s Zheng Saisai as she reached the Bank of the West quarter-final on her debut.

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Johanna Konta [3] v Zheng Saisai – H2H: Konta leads 2-1

After such a remarkable start to the year, it is perhaps worth remembering that this was not some miraculous finding of form. In a way it all started last year in the grass with two quarter-finals (Nottingham and Eastbourne) off the back of Wildcards, and was followed up by a gallop to the fourth round of the US Open.

The hard yards have been paying off, with Konta breaking the Top 20 this year, but with that sometimes come the pressure to perform. Although her clay court season was patchy, she did manage to surpass her run in Eastbourne this year to make the semi-final, before winning her first Wimbledon main draw match.

It was maybe a little disappointing that she was not able to carry that momentum forward, losing in the second round to former finalist Eugenie Bouchard, but as the scene of her first Slam flurry rolls around again, she looks ready for another good run.

Possessed of a decent topspin forehand, Zheng snapped a two win losing streak against the Brit in Nottingham this year on the grass, in their tightest match yet and both seem much improved each time they compete.

Consistency and strength of mind have paid off for Konta over the past 12-18 months, and she has not panicked when up against stronger foes, so we can expect a fight, but looking at her opening win against Julia Boserup (Match report here), Konta is swinging with a lot of confidence at the moment, and should overpower Zheng once more.

The other factor is she is making her debut at the Premier events in Stanford, Montreal and Cincinnati in the run up to the US Open. This should build up a handy buffer, but really she ought to be expected to have a strong run to the end of the season on the hard courts.

Zheng has equalled her best run so far this year on hard courts, also reaching the quarter-finals in Doha, with her best performance all year on the tour coming in Nottingham (semi-final).

She could cause Konta a few issues, but just seems to lack the consistency to string together lots of runs of this ilk.

Prediction: Konta in two sets.

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