By Ros Satar, in Indian Wells
- 11th seed Konta lost in her opening round at Indian Wells
- Defending the Miami title next
INDIAN WELLS, USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta was one of the shock exits at the BNP Paribas Open, and Britwatch caught up with her to reflect on the past few months and look ahead to Miami.
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Marketa Vondrousova def. Johanna Konta  7-6(5) 6-4
Although her practice session saw British No. 1 and World No. 11 Johanna Konta in good spirits, her opening round saw a repeat of some of the same frustrations that are testing the 11th seed recently. It was a tricky draw anyway – Marketa Vondrousova is one talented teen and another of the young guns firing on the higher order. The Czech came out swinging and wrong-footed the Brit from the get-go.
We began to see the kind of fightback we were accustomed to see back in 2016, with Konta coming back from the brink in sets, and so was the case here as she gradually worked her way back into contention, even nudging ahead and serving for the first set.
However, Vondrousova, who plays like a young Kvitova, with that same fearless free-swinging, saved three set points before forcing a tie-break. It is fair to describe that as a mess, with neither seeming able to hang on to their serve, but what little momentum went the teenager’s way, as she edged the first set.
The second set seemed a lot more like it, but chances to take advatage were coming up short for Konta, unable to convert on two early chances in the first game, before having to save two herself. A far more confident looking break to love put Konta back in the driving seat, and at 4-2 it looked as though the fightback was on
It was not to be though, with Voundrousova picking up the pace, breaking Kota twice at the end of the set for the match.
Konta’s assessment was, as always, frank and honest: “I think I did not start off well at all and she started off reasonably well as well. I definitely fought my way into the match and tried to maximise what I was going to bring to the court today. It definitely wasn’t as good of a level as I would have liked but there wasn’t very much in it for me to be able to turn that around.”
It is not uncommon for Indian Wells to be a tournament that upends a lot of players – after all Andy Murray has often had a shocker of a tournament here. It comes after the quick Middle-East swing, and nestles in before the clay court transition ahead of that brutal clay and grass court swing. Add to that the switch in conditions between the dry desert heat of Indian Wells, and the humidity to come in Miami.
Konta said: “I think for me personally it’s more the conditions, I think we’re still early enough in the year where the body is still fairly fresh. We’re not getting into the back end survival part of the season (laughs). I’m enjoying playing. I’m enjoying being here so regardless of where we are in the season or what the conditions are like, I’m enjoying fighting my way through it.”
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Defending the Miami title
Often players going out early take advantage of the generous number of practice courts and stay for a few days extra before heading out to Miami. Laat year Konta notched up just one win bevore bowing out, but chose to stay in the region for a while. This year though, it is time to mix things up.
“Last year I actually spent quite a few days here before we went to Miami.
This year I’m going to try and do it a little bit differently also because Michael’s family is in Boca – he actually lives out there so it’s a perfect opportunity for him to be at home and for me to have a training base somewhere else other than here.”
And before we get too carried away with the expectation that a World No. 11 has to win everything and anything in sight, Konta came into Miami pretty undercooked after a foot injury after reaching the Australian Open quarter-final kept her out of Fed Cup an the Middle-East swing, and she still won the title.
‘I do trust in my ability and trust in the game I play’
If nothing else, while losses like this hurt, they happen to everyone. and although that consistency we were used to seeing in 2016 has yet to catch up with Konta, the change in her mindset between the end of last year, where she seemed to even lack the ability to think on her feet.
There was a definite difference in this match, as she explained: `’It shows that when I’m nowhere near playing my best I can still compete and I can still try to fight my way into some opportunities. It was a little unfortunate that out of all the opportunities that I created, and there were many, I just didn’t do well enough to try and convert a few more than I did.”
“100% I’m definitely in a better place and I do trust in my ability and trust in the game that I play and I definitely trust in the fact that sooner or later I will be playing at the level that I want to play, and hopefully that will transfer into results as well.”
Konta will defend her title at the Miami Open, which takes place between 21 March to 1 April.
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