By Ros Satar

  • Barbora Strycova def. Johanna Konta 7-5 7-6(5)
  • Busy run into the end of the season for the Brit as she strives to hold on to her spot in the Race to Singapore
TOKYO, JAPAN – It was a short-lived debut in Tokyo for British No. 1 Johanna Konta as she bowed out in her opener to Barbora Strycova.

 

Barbora Strycova def. Johanna Konta 7-5 7-6(5)

Barbora Strycova Aegon Classic 2017, Birmingham U

Barbora Strycova Aegon Classic 2017, Birmingham UK (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

It was a second opening defeat in a row for the current World No. 7 and British No. 1 Johanna Konta. She faced Barbora Strycova who had already come through a challenging opener on a court that should have favoured the aggressive striking Brit. It started as we are used to seeing from Konta, as she leapt out to a 3-0 lead, but by the second change-over, she had been pegged back on serve. A pair of breaks followed, before Konta lost her grip on a long game, putting Strycova in the driving seat.

With the first set going the way of the Czech, a solid start to the second set was imperative for the Brit, and after deflecting a break point on her serve, and unable to convert on a chance of her own, Konta looked within sight of levelling the match, breaking for a 5-3 lead, only to be broken straight back as she served for the set. Two set points came and went for Konta before Strycova pushed for a tie-break.

Strycova’s record on tie-breaks was far more superior to Konta’s, and it showed. Certainly in the early part, it was all Strycova, with a 4-2 lead that was slowly eroded for Konta to level up to 5-5. With Strycova holding firm on her own serve to bring up match point, a forehand long ended Konta’s short stay in Tokyo.

What does it mean for Porsche Race to Singapore?

Johanna Konta, Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati, 2017

Johanna Konta of Great Britain talks to the press during Media Day at the 2017 Western & Southern Open WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Konta is scheduled to play every week now in the run up to Singapore. Right now, Jelena Ostapenko is the top seed in Seoul and is into the quarter-finals, and if she runs all the way to the finals, she could leapfrog Konta this week for the No. 7 spot in the race.

Behind her, should she drop a place is Kristina Mladenovic, who is scheduled for the same events – but the Frenchwoman has been on a disastrous losing streak since the summer, so giving Konta a little bit of a cushion. It is not uncommon for players to find the start of a swing tricky, so while this loss is disappointing, at the moment it gives Konta a chance to play herself into form.

Whatever happens, she will want to avoid the debacle of last year, where the last berth was snaffled at the last moment (quite literally) by Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won Moscow and then hot-footed it to Singapore (and actually made it to the semi-finals).

The Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open takes place between 24-30 September.

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