By Ros Satar
- Daria Kasatkina def, Johanna Konta [7/WC] 4-6 7-6(6) 6-2
- Kasatkina saved two match points in the second set
- Next stop for Konta – Indian Wells
DUBAI, UAE – Johanna Konta may have been the first woman to win in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis main draw, but that run ended in the next round as she was edged by Daria Kasatkina.
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Daria Kasatkina def. Johanna Konta [7/WC] 4-6 7-6(6) 6-2
Perhaps it was more of a surprise that having faced break points on her first three service games, Johanna Konta was the first to get the break. The No. 7 seed, in as a late wildcard after the withdrawal of Simona Halep, capitalised on the fact that Daria Kasatkina could not find a way through, and converted on her second chance to claim the break.
There was more frustratation for the young Russian, who saved two set points before her seventh break point of the set, but Konta held on to take the set after close to an hour.
Konta was swift to get an early break and it looked like she was well on her way, but Kasatkina broke back and held on to force a tie-break in the second set.
The tie-break was littered with mini-breaks, but with two match-points in hand, Konta must have thought she would be in the locker-room, but Kasatkina took advantage of a few jitters and leveled the match.
Now the momentum switched with Kasatkina being the one to break immediately, but was pegged back just as quickly. Where you would have put money on Konta having the fitness to outlast the youngster, it was Kasatkina that seemed to get a second wind, breaking Konta twice more in a row before closing the match out, on her first match point.
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Where will Konta play next?
This is a loss that will hurt – there are the grass shoots of confidence returning, but obviously more of that will come with solid back to back wins. She reached the quarter-final of Brisbane, and reached the third round of Doha, so it is coming.
The dynamic between Konta and new coach Michael Joyce has been fascinating – they do have good dialogue and his insight as a former player is prevalent in how he breaks down his message but there are still a few areas that he can work on.
Next up for the Brit will be Indian Wells. It has not always been a happy hunting ground for her though – with her best performance being the third round in 2016.
The BNP Paribas Open takes place between 8-18 March.
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