By Jake Davies

  • Johanna Konta [6] vs Monica Niculescu
  • Konta chases first ever Singapore qualification, needs good run at China Open
BEIJING, CHINA – Can Johanna Konta end her season in Singapore after a considerable slump in recent months?

Johanna Konta vs Monica Niculescu – H2H: Tied at 1-1

British No.1 and World No.7 Johanna Konta has been on a rather disappointing run of form since her great semi-final effort at Wimbledon in the summer. Since then she has won just two matches inside four tournaments, including a surprise first round exit to Aleksandra Krunic at the US Open.

That loss would have effected her progress enormously, but there is some good news for the Brit as she reaches the conclusion of her 2017 season. She is still in contention for the prestigious WTA Finals in Singapore, where she is still very much in control of her own destiny and still holds all the cards as to whether she qualifies for the event.

There are plenty of points to be gained in the China Open this week. The winner gets a total of 1000 ranking points. Konta is currently in eighth place in the Porsche Race to Singapore and has a 754 point lead over ninth-placed Svetlana Kuznetsova. A good week in Beijing could all but seal her position for Singapore.

The first challenge for Konta is Romania’s Monica Niculescu. We have seen in the past that Konta has struggled against players that offer a variation of paces and spins to the tennis ball, a prime example of that was in her loss to Su-Wei Hsieh at Roland-Garros.

Niculescu likes to flatten out the backhand and varies the spin she inflicts on the forehand side. The Romanian’s forehand shot is a difficult shot to deal with because so few players choose to slice their forehand with as much regularity as she does.

The pressure is well and truly on for Konta, as she tries to rediscover that winning touch and that superiority from a psychological standpoint that she expressed for much of the first half of 2017.

Prediction: Konta in three sets

Konta and Niculescu are scheduled on the National Tennis Stadium Court, not before 9pm (2pm BST).

Main Image: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

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