By Ros Satar

  • Fanny Stollar [Q] def. Johanna Konta [6] 6-3 6-4
  • Konta slipped out of the Top 20 after Miami
  • Little points to defend on clay but Fed Cup in Japan coming up
CHARLESTON, USA – Johanna Konta was stunned by teen qualifier Fanny Stollar as she exited Charleston in her opening round.

 

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Fanny Stollar [Q] def. Johanna Konta [6] 6-3 6-4

What looked to be starting well for the British No. 1 Johanna Konta, soon slid into chaos as she was beaten in straight sets by teenage qualifier Fanny Stollar. On a brooding, cloudy and blustery day in Charleston, Konta made the first strike with a break before the first changeover, with the pair trading breaks before Stollar levelled things up at 3-3.

That was the start of a run for the Hungarian teen as she reeled off another three games to take the first set. The second set looked to be a lot more competitive though for the Brit with Konta only fending off the first break point to hold for 4-3 in the second set.

Yet an inexplicably loose game for the Brit saw her capitulate for a break to Stollar, who did not face one break point at all on her serve in the second set.

 

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Analysis – Three thoughts ahead of Fed Cup

Movement was a little sketchy

Konta may have three of her 11 ITF titles on the dirt but where the main tour is concerned, her successes have all come on hard courts, with decent showings on grass including her run to the Wimbledon semi-final last year.

While she spent some time in the off season working on the clay courts at the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton, her movement still looked tentative but what was encouraging was some good aggressive play at times. Her serve was getting her free points and as we have seen a lot this year, when it is working at its best, then other elements of Konta’s game comes together.

A couple of times she did get burned with the combination of movement, position and volleying – which has been a bit of a bug bear for the Brit at times certainly this year.

 

Not much to defend on clay

Clay is not a surface we have a great deal of expectation of where Konta is concerned. She has precious little to defend on the dirt:

  • Charleston – Main draw for the first time (Lost in qualies R1 back in 2011)
  • Stuttgart – won her first match last year but due to Fed Cup in Japan, will not be at the Premier event on indoor red clay this year
  • Madrid – Yet to win a match at this Premier event
  • Rome – has had more luck with more claggy conditions which are a little closer to those at Roland Garros than the zippy conditions at altitude in Madrid – picked up a win here and reached the third round in 2016
  • Roland Garros – Yet to pick up a main draw win here.

 

Bring on the Indoor Hard Court in Japan

About that Fed Cup World Group II play-off – Team GB have to transition back to indoor hard court for the World Group II Play-off against Japan, played away and right before the European clay court swing gets underway.

Team-mate Heather Watson also had a rough ride on the green-grey clay and she is listed for the WTA International in Prague, while Konta is of course in the entry lists for the two big-hitting Premiers that are a crucial warm-up for Roland Garros.

Watson is still in doubles action currently in Charleston, and like Konta is looking for confidence after notching up a seventh straight tour-level loss. However, Fed Cup does bring out the best in people, and hopefully the goal of ending Great Britain’s 25-year wait for a spot in the Fed Cup Top 16 should bring them together, and hopefully they can carry any wins here into business as usual on the dirt.

The Fed Cup World Group II Play-off takes place at the Bourbon Beans Dome, Miki, Japan between 21-22 April.

 

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