By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Johanna Konta [22] def. Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6(7)
  • Will face Dominika Cibulkova in the second round
WIMBLEDON, UK – 2017 semi-finalist Johanna Konta started her Wimbledon campaign with a hard-fought win, as she advances into the second round.

 

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Johanna Konta [22] def. Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6(7)

British No. 1 Johanna Konta was put to the test in her opening match in Wimbledon, as she battled in two tight sets to advance, against Natalia Vikhlyantseva.

From the start of the match there was very little between them, with the first chance to break falling to Konta, who could not make it stick. She made up for it with a break to love and then serving out the set.

Konta took the advantage in the second set but was broken by the Russian who levelled at 4-4. Two set points went begging as Konta saved them and forced a tie-break.

The nerves were evident as five match points came and went, before Konta finally got over the line.

She said, after the match: “It was a tough match. She has a big game. She hits quite tricky on grass, as you know. When someone serves well, when someone has a good first strike, that makes it quite tricky out there. She did a good job, I think, on playing her tennis. She made me work for it very hard. It was a great match for me to have. It was a great match for me to battle through and fight through until literally the very last point.

“I think it’s the tough matches, the ones where there’s quite a bit of ebb and flow, when you save set points, or you save breakpoints, those are the matches where you come away feeling quite tough.

“I think the matches where things are a lot more straightforward for you, obviously you take the good things from that, maybe the level you played. But in terms of the way you competed out there, these matches ask a lot more of you. I definitely felt I can take a lot of good things and a lot of trust in how I’m able to compete out there regardless of how the match is, how I’m playing, what the conditions are like. I think I have control over how I’m able to compete.”

 

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Konta [22] v Dominika Cibulkova | H2H: Konta leads 2-1

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Former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Dominika Cibulkova awaits Konta in the second round. While the head to head is in the Brit’s favour, Cibulkova might have a little more fire in her belly this time around – she was in the No. 32 seed position before the ALETC determined they would grant Serena Williams a seeding, bumping Cibulkova out of the seedings.

Even without that extra fire, Cibulkova plays an aggressive style with very solid groundstrokes off both wings. Konta may find herself under pressure, although her volleying was much improved in her opener, and she has been coming forward more.

She can expect Cibulkova to move her all around the court and you would ave to give the edge on all court coverage to the compact Slovakian. But the match wins are giving Konta a lot of confidence, as will the home crowd, but she will have to fight to this one.

She said: “I’m looking forward to it. She’s probably one of the best competitors on tour, has been for quite some time. She’s a feisty player. I think it will be a great test for me to keep a good kind of focus on controlling what I can, accept that she’s going to fight her way into some points and really stay there until the very end. That’s a good ask of me to make sure that I stay there, like, equally the same.”

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Play continues on all courts at 11:30, except for Centre Court and No. 1 Court, which start at 1pm (all times BST).

 

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