Konta struggles into US Open R3 after heat collapse
By Ros Satar
- Johanna Konta  def. Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 5-7 6-2
- Collapsed on court while serving to force second set tie-break
- Faces Belinda Bencic  next
NEW YORK, USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta battled into the third round of the US Open despite collapsing in the humidity at the end of the second set.
Johanna Konta  def. Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 5-7 6-2
What looked like a routine match for Konta turned into a real drama as her game started to unravel in the second set, where being described as ‘hot and bothered’ by the Eurosport commentators was uncomfortably true.
As her trusty backhand started to fail, her face was getting redder and redder, and saving two set points and trying to force a tie-breaker, she faulted before falling to her knees, hyperventilating and in considerable distress.
The umpire came down off the chair, administering ice while the trainer and the doctor made their way to the court, and performing a medical assessment while Konta lay on the court.
She was eventually able to walk with help to her chair and as her breathing came more under control, with ice being used to bring down her body temperature, she was amazingly able to serve out the final point for Pironkova to level the match.
Players are allowed a break to change their clothes at the end of the set, and there was another lengthy break while Konta went off court with the trainer.
On the resumption, it was Konta who started the more aggressive, breaking Pironkova straight away, and staying just that nudge ahead as the Bulgarian struggled to put away drop shots as Konta tried to shorten the points. In fairness she still looked quite flush, but somehow managed to stick with the match, breaking at the end of the set and serving the match out to love.
We had to feel for Pironkova but all too often the healthier player on the other side of the net from an issue like this finds themselves unsettled, and somehow found it difficult to handle Konta’s understandable change of tactics to shorten the points and drop shot her way out of trouble.
Meanwhile the debates still rage on – time it takes for qualified medical personnel to get to courts, the bathroom break rule, with no clear answers, other than the British No. 1 made it into the third round for the second year in a row.
Konta v Belinda Bencic  – H2H – 1-1
The season has not been kind to the young Swiss with injury issues which ruled her out of Roland Garros (back) and then a wrist injury cut short her Wimbledon, and she pulled out of the Rio Olympics. The pair have played each other twice on the hometown grass of Eastbourne for the Brit, with the latest honours going to the Swiss on her way to winning the title.
Now ordinarily we would be saying that the hard courts and the speed would be suiting Konta down to the ground. Her performance in that first set was what we have come to see from Konta – aggressive ball stroking, accurate and powerful serving, and aggressive winners coming in to the net.
We could also add a sense of fighting spirit after that comeback, but it will come down to how her recovery goes after that match.
Bencic plays a powerful but also a smart game. She still takes the ball early and is solid off both wings and can return very well, and we should expect a lot of court coverage from both of them.
A lot will depend on how quickly Konta can recover from the rapid turn of events at the end of that second set, and whether she will suffer any longer term effects of this as the tournament gets certainly towards the second week and beyond.
We suspect this will be a challenge too far.
Prediction: Bencic in three sets.
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