By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta v Caroline Garcia [6]
  • Heather Watson [Q] v Ekaterina Makarova
NEW YORK, USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta and No. 3 Heather Watson face tough openers at the US Open.

 

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Johanna Konta v Caroline Garcia [6] | Konta leads H2H 3-2

Johanna Konta in the first round of the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018

Johanna Konta in the first round of the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Given the rollercoaster that British No. 1 Johanna Konta has been on since her run to the Wimbledon semi-final last year, it maybe comes as a surprise that she has a leading head to head against No. 6 seed Caroline Garcia.

In fact she took the Frenchwoman out at Wimbledon that year in three sets in the round of 16, but since then, Garcia’s fortunes soared, seeing her secure that elusive last berth at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Garcia looked to be troubled with an arm injury in New Haven, losing in the quarter-final, but comes into New York with some wins behind her. Konta has managed to notch up a little more time on the hard courts, and coupled with doubles – she has picked up some solid form as she climbs her way back up the rankings.

Both have a good aggressive style of play, bit perhaps Garcia has a little more variety – she can clobber the ball with pace, she can defend, and moreover she can come to the net decisively. This is an area that Konta has been working on, and the improvements have been coming with her doubles time.

If anything Konta maybe has a little more power behind her, and if she can focus on first-strike tennis and avod being pulled into the net, that will be a very good thing. This is a tough one to call and it is a tough opener for the Brit to come through.

Prediction: Garcia in three sets.

 

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Heather Watson [Q] v Ekaterina Makarova | Watson leads H2H 1-0

Heather Watson in the second round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018

Heather Watson in the second round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, WTA San Jose 2018 | Anita Stahl

Ironically the best chance of one of the British women advancing might be with Heather Watson, who has slipped to British No. 3, and yet was the only one of the Brits in qualifying to make it through the draw.

Although she won the Junior title, she has never been able to translate that into senior wins – until now. After San Jose, Watson dropped down to a couple of ITF events, including reaching the Vancouver final, before reeling off three wins in qualifying.

Ekaterina Makarova had a slow start to the hard court summer with a couple of wins apiece in Cincinnati and New Haven so in essence both have some solid match-play behind them. The Russian is a solid baseliner with plenty of power in her groundstrokes, and has been a semi-finalist in the past at the US Open, so should not be underestimated.

She has had her own mountain to climb not winning any back to back matches until Wimbledon, while Watson has really struggled to find any consistency at all this year.

When on form though, Watson has added a lot more pep into her serve, to complement her natural agility and her ability to defend thoroughly as well as pick up the pace and attack. If Watson’s confidence is high she could be the Brit to swing a surprise win in New York.

Prediction: Watson in three sets.

Watson & Makarova are scheduled in Court 4 at 12:30pm (5:30pm BST).

 

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