Konta, Watson, Broady & Robson – US Open R1 Previews
By Ros Satar
- Johanna Konta  v Bethanie Mattek-Sands [W]
- Heather Watson v Richel Hogenkamp [Q]
- Naomi Broady v Laura Robson [Q]
NEW YORK, USA – With four British women in the US Open main draw, we can be assured of at least one advancing into round two.
Johanna Konta  v Bethanie Mattek-Sands [W] – First Meeting
Konta will come in to the US Open with great memories of her run to the fourth round, which helped set up her breakthrough year this year. She will, of course, prefer to say this whole run of success has been a long work in progress, but wins build confidence. Last year she battled through three rounds of qualifying and four rounds so these courts will mark a welcome return.
She also comes in as the current leader of the US Open Series following her maiden title in Stanford, and a quarter-final showing in Montreal before her skip off to Rio. Cincinnati was not as kind, losing in a late night three set battle to Agnieszka Radwanska in the R16, and then having to skip New Haven with a lower back injury.
Although she is meeting Mattek-Sands for the first time, the US will be welcoming back their Mixed Doubles Olympic gold medallist with open arms. Mattek-Sands has struggled with injuries of late and despite hauling herself back into the Top 100 at the end of last year, she has slipped back out of the Top 100.
On paper this is Konta’s for the taking. When she is on form she has a solid serve, players strongly off both wings, advancing with a mean drive volley to polish off aggressive points. But she will need to be nimble – Mattek-Sands has developed a great career in doubles, and together with Lucie Safarova collected two Slam titles in 2015 at the Australian and French Open.
The American has a versatile all court style and could cause problems at the net – Konta’s pick-up volleys have been more miss than hit at times, and while the Brit should come through, Mattek-Sands could well force her to go the distance.
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
Heather Watson v Richel Hogenkamp [Q] – First meeting
Watson has had a challenging time of it in the Slams this year, with two first round exits (Australian Open, Wimbledon) and just the second round of the French Open. The former junior winner of the US Open will hope to change that around and has a fair start with a qualifier in the first round.
The whole US swing has been a bit of a non-starter with a first round exit in Montreal and falling in the first round of qualifying at New Haven. In fact Watson has yet to get past the first round in New York in the main draw.
She should stand a chance to break that duck against the Dutchwoman. Her favoured courts are clay and slow hard courts. That being said, she has acclimatised to the New York courts having already won through three rounds of qualifying, and as an unknown quantity, should not be underestimated.
She has pulled off a couple of notable defeats, beating Julia Goerges in Gastein, 2012 and stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova this year in the Fed Cup tie, away in Moscow.
She will almost certainly take the fight to Watson, who can do damage with her increasingly aggressive serve, but can scramble comfortably back to defence.
We can expect this to go ‘the long way round’ as Watson is prone to do, but she has a great chance of advancing in New York for the first time.
Prediction: Watson in three sets.
Naomi Broady v Laura Robson [Q] – First meeting
It has been a welcome return for fans of former British No. 1 Robson. After a long lay off with wrist injuries, and enjoying her protected ranking return, it was back to the ITF tour to start building up her ranking.
The patience has been paying off, and she is currently on an eight match winning steam including double bagling her way to the Landisville $25K title. Robson did not drop a set on the way to the main draw
Having started the year late with a wildcard into Indian Wells in March, ranked 551, she has already broken back into the Top 250.
Still – it is a tough ask against a fellow Brit who has been making determined strides of her own. Broady decided she would make it on her own merits into main draws, and has risen from 122 at the start of the year into the Top 90.
Both have a hard hitting game so it will be time to pray for the poor yellow fuzzies as they get battered to within an inch of their rubbery lives.
In her day, Robson’s serve, ground-strokes and big game experience would have been more of a match for Broady, but Broady has had some good deep runs at tour level this year alone – the quarter-final of Auckland the semi-final in Kuala Lumpur and may just be a little stronger on the day for the returning Robson.
Prediction: Broady in three sets.
The US Open starts on 29 August.
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