Konta faces Venus after Brit men all bow out in Rome singles
By Ros Satar, in Rome
- Johanna Konta  v Venus Williams 
- Head to Head – Konta leads 3-1
- Juan Martin Del Potro def. Kyle Edmund 7-5 6-4
- Novak Djokovic  def. Aljaz Bedene 7-6(2) 6-2
ROME, ITALY – And then there was one as Johanna Konta is the sole singles player left after Kyle Edmund joined Aljaz Bedene and Andy Murray on the way out of the tournament.
Johanna Konta  v Venus Williams  – H2H: Konta leads 3-1
British No. 1 Johanna Konta weathered the conditions a little more favourably in her run-out against Yulia Putintseva who seemed a little more bothered by the unique conditions that are offered up in the iconic Court Pietrangeli.
With each clay win her confidence is growing. She has never made any secret this is not her best surface, but the confidence is getting there – slowly.
She told reporters after her opening win: “I think I need a bit of time to also find my footing in the match, and I think with most matches, although you get the odd one where you start off really well, I think generally that was my first round, you need to play yourself a little bit into the match and into the tournament.
“I felt that my level did improve, especially at the beginning of that second set pretty much through to the end. Overall, I think there wasn’t too much in it. I think score-line-wise, it doesn’t really represent, one, the length of the match. We played just under two hours. We had a lot of games that were very much back and forth.
“Overall, I’m happy to have come through that. I think I battled quite well, and I competed well. I needed to stay mentally quite tough against someone like Yulia, as well.”
Putintseva started to get more annoyed by calls, umpiring decisions as gradually Konta pulled ahead when it came to the second set, winning 6-3 6-0. However it proved to be the kind of experience Konta relished.
“I think it’s definitely different, but I kind of felt that I kind of got my head around it and it was just going to be like that, and so I got on, got the mentality of just get on with it, because it wasn’t really going to change.
“Yeah, there is a lot of movement around the court and in and out. I mean, it’s a great court to play on. I think there is a lot of noise, obviously, but also in a good way. It does lend a lot to an atmosphere of a match. I think it was my first time on the court, so I definitely enjoyed it.”
The aggressive game of Konta has caused Williams problems with the Brit now on a three-match winning streak but Williams has had a decent record in Rome, winning in 1999 and with a smattering of quarter-finals and semi-finals throughout her career – so the experience is certainly on her side. Konta had her best performance last year here, making it to the third round.
Konta has vowed not to try and change too much of her game, but it will be interesting to see what adjustments she will have to make to get the job done.
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
Juan Martin Del Potro def. Kyle Edmund 7-5 6-4
It was always going to be a tough ask for Kyle Edmund to take on Juan Martin Del Potro. The Tower of Tandil had extended his unbeaten run against Grigor Dimitrov, having to come from a set behind to do so, and was clinical against the Brit.
After a confident hold to love, Edmund was under pressure, staving off two break points, before finally losing his serve. But to his credit, he did not drop his head, as he has been sometimes prone to do, breaking back as Del Potro was serving for the set, but giving the advantage back straight away.
Del Potro closed out the set easily for the second time of asking and was quick to break again twice, with Edmund putting up some resistance by breaking back again before Del Potro closed out the match on his third match point.
Del Potro said, of Edmund: “I never play before against Kyle, and he surprised me a little bit. His game is so good. His forehand is good enough to be with a better ranking very soon, and I think he has good tennis to keep improving.”
Edmund has a little more chance to get some clay court time in, scheduled to play Lyon Qualifying,
Novak Djokovic  def. Aljaz Bedene 7-6(2) 6-2
Again another tough ask for the current British No. 3 Aljaz Bedene to tackle an albeit returning-to-form Novak Djokovic. That being said, he started with intent, breaking the World No. 2 in the first game before staying with him toe-to-toe for the rest of the first set, forcing a tie-break.
From there though it went downhill rather rapidly, with Djokovic swiftly jumping to a 5-0 lead before closing out the first set with ease. Things did not get any better when Bedene was broken at the start of the second set, battling hard to hold on, and the same for Djokovic’s second break – fending off another three break points before capitulating on the fourth.
He did make Djokovic work hard for the win, saving three match points before Djokovic advanced on his fourth.
Bedene will next play at Roland Garros.
Konta and Williams are scheduled second on Centrale not before 1:30pm (12:30 BST).
Featured Image Credit: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
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