Konta sets up Cincinnati clash with Radwanska

By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati

  • Johanna Konta [10] def. Donna Vekic [Q] 6-2 6-3
  • Faces Agnieszka Radwanska [5] next
CINCINNATI, USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta booked her place in the third round of the Western and Southern Open where she will meet Agnieszka Radwanska.

 

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Johanna Konta [10] def. Donna Vekic [Q] 6-2 6-3

It looked as though Konta was going to re-start the US hard court season just as she left it, zipping through the opening set without dropping a point, before breaking Vekic to open up a brief lead.

Vekic had been without back to back wins since June this year, and had come through the qualifying rounds, taking out Ana Ivanovic in the main draw first round, and she took advantage of an early loose game to get on the board. Konta broke once more to edge ahead again before finally holding again for a 4-1 lead.

Unable to break Vekic for the third straight time, Konta found herself under pressure before finally breaking for the first set.

The second set saw the Brit settle a little quicker into her groove, although Vekic was not going to succumb without a fight, before Konta made her final sprint for the finish line, albeit requiring an emergency toilet break before finally serving out the match.

The Olympic Experience

The British No. 1, who reached the quarter-finals of the Rio 2016 Olympics was still very much in the samba spirit! Proudly brandishing her Team GB drinks bottle, she admitted that she had opted to give the lengthy (and late) Opening Ceremony a miss.

She said: “If I stand or sit for too long I literally get back spasms. I was like, ‘That’s not going to do me any good’, so I watched it actually with some of the other athletes that couldn’t go either just at our block. That was good fun.”

In fact the whole Olympic experience brought out a decidedly giddy response, especially after everyone tried to set her expectations that it would be nothing like the organisation and structure of a tour event.

She said: “Honestly, I’m so glad everyone has told me — you know, they kind of did a bit of shock therapy. Oh, it’s nothing like a tour event. I was kind of going in there thinking, Oh, my goodness, what is it going to be like? I’m glad I went in that way because it was so incredible. Yeah, just to be a part of something like that and the energy of all the other athletes, yeah, pretty insane.”

Despite some of the negativity that surrounds the more self-contained sports, such as tennis or indeed golf, Konta went on to assert that everyone at the tennis event was totally invested in the experience.

She said: “I had an incredible match against Svetlana [Kuznetsova] , and I assure you, both of us wanted to be in that event. I mean, honestly, if you just were there, I’ve never seen so many emotional tennis players in my life, for one. Everyone was so emotionally invested in just trying to be there as long as possible and really immersing themselves into the Olympics really.

“I can’t speak for golf. I mean, I met Justin and Danny and they were brilliant. I mean, how awesome was it when Justin won? I mean, it was brilliant. (Laughter.)

“I can only really speak for the tennis players and the ones that I saw. Even here when we were watching Monica win, I mean, some of the players were in tears. I promise you, whoever says it doesn’t mean anything to tennis players has no idea what they’re talking about. It meant so much to many players, me included.”

 

Konta v Agnieszka Radwanska [5]

H2H – First Meeting

After all Radwanska’s trials and tribulations travelling to the Olympics (55 hours) only to be bounced out in the opening round, it must be a relief to get back to the regular tour schedule.

Benefiting from a bye into the second round, she coasted past Andrea Petkovic, who had to play twice as the schedule worked overtime to clear the backlog after torrential rain dogged the first couple of days of the tournament.

The disruption seemed to have no effect on the fifth seed, who steamed past the German on a humid night, to set up her first clash with the British No. 1.

When Radwanska is in this kind of form,. With movement spot on, and controlling positioning around the court, it is hard to find any place she cannot reach.

While Konta battled hard, she did at times strike out wildly, and she acknowledged that there was still a loit she could, and would do to improve.

She said: “I think nothing is given. I’ve been fortunate enough to play so many matches in this period of time. I think I’ve definitely picked up a lot of match fitness and just a lot of experience.

“I keep trying to do that every time I step out onto the court, to keep basically taking everything from the match that I’m playing and try to reinvest it into the following matches. I think I’ve been able to do a good job at just reinvesting those experiences and just becoming that much tougher.”

She does have a couple of weapons at her disposal that could give the Pole some pause. Konta, when she is serving well, can get a raft of free points. She moves well, and can be swift and decisive at the net – with some solid aggressive play. That being said, her serve was not fantastic in Wednesday’s opener – she will need that to pick up considerably.

Radwanska is a far more tricky customer. Maybe not possessed of the most powerful serve, she will go for accuracy and placement and will try and pull Konta out of position.

Konta is certainly capable of taking a set off her, but will have to match her ninja skills and work very hard to pull off a win with Radwanska in that kind of form.

Prediction: Radwanska in three sets.

Konta and Radwanska are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 8:30pm (1:30am BST, Friday).

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