• Johanna Konta in R1 of the Australian Open 2018

By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [10] def. Carla Suárez Navarro 6-2 6-2
  • Faces Angelique Kerber in the third round
  • Head to Head: Kerber leads 2-1
QATAR, DOHA – Johanna Konta eased past Carla Suárez Navarro to book a third round clash with Angelique Kerber, at the Qatar Total Open.

 

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Johanna Konta [10] def. Carla Suárez Navarro 6-2 6-2

After what looked a tough battle over the line in her opener, Johanna Konta looked a little more assured against Carla Suárez Navarro to advance to the third round of the Qatar Total Open in Doha.

Where Bernarda Pera‘s free-swinging style had Konta working hard in the opening set before running away with things in the second set, it was a lot more commanding against the Spaniard with Konta taking an early lead despite having to deflect a break point in her opening game.

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Suárez Navarro had another couple of tries to break Konta’s serve but could not break through the Brit’s defence, with Konta breaking to seal the first set.

Things were a lot more edgy in the second set. Suárez Navarro broke in the opening game, only for Konta to peg her straight back, before a mammoth game which was into its 18th minute, with 10 break points before Konta finally broke the Spaniard for the advantage.

From that point, Suárez Navarro’s spirit seemed to have deserted her, as Konta held in what felt like record time before she broke to wrap up the match, booking her spot in the third round on her Doha debut.

 

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Konta [10] v Angelique Kerber [8] | H2H: Kerber leads 2-1

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Angelique Kerber makes her return since her run to the Australian Open semi-final where for most of the tournament she really looked like the player in form. She had been many people’s favourite from the start of the year to take the title, only to deliver one of the matches of the tournament against Simona Halep.

Benefiting from a bye into the second round, there may have been just a little rust to the German’s game, pegged back from taking an early advantage over Sam Stosur, but soon regained it before really running away with it in the second set.

Although Kerber leads her head to head with Konta, the Brit got the last win, on the grass (not without a little drama) last year in Eastbourne.

Kerber may not have lost her defensive prowess but what stood out from the start of the year was far more aggressive play than we have seen from her. Her new partnership with Wim Fissette (Konta’s previous coach) has also seen her make far more of that lefty serve of hers – something that has frustrated observers for a while with her game.

Konta has shown some positive signs from the disappointing end to last year, but there is no denying her loss to Pera in Melbourne was a shock, and for a time in the first set, she was taking her time to try and figure out a way past the American.

With Kerber she is on much surer ground, but can be expected to be made to run, but the more aggressive play from Kerber maybe a bit of an eye opener. Either way, Konta on form could well push Kerber to take this the distance, but if the German is in anything like the kind of form she started the year with, it will be a tough ask to progress.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets.

Konta and Kerber are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 8:30pm (5:30pm GMT).

Main Image: Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

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