By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne

  • Johanna Konta [11] def. Lesia Tsurenko 7-6(4) 6-1
  • Konta faces [5] Petra Kvitova in the third round – H2H: Kvitova leads 1-0

EASTBOURNE, UK – British No. 1 Johanna Konta battled her way into the third round where she has a chance to take revenge on the two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

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Despite brushing aside the notion that maybe her stratospheric start to the year might have stalled over the clay court season, and not really caught alight at the start of the grass court season, Konta set about putting those perceptions to rights.

After exiting Nottingham (where she was defending quarter-final points) in the first round, and only making it as far as the second round in Birmingham, she contended that along with some doubles – she had gotten some solid match court practice under her belt.

Yet there can be no denying that at (literally) her home tournament, she would prefer to get the big result here – not only as a Wimbledon warm up but in a place she proudly called home at the announcement of bold redevelopment plans at the start of the tournament.

Tsurenko, who had already played today, put up a worthy battle in a lengthy first set, which saw Konta fail to convert on five break point chances, before finally nailing the tie-break.

Thankfully the momentum stayed with the Brit as she started the second set having to save three break points on her own serve, before leaping out to 5-0 lead, and eventually closing out for a straight sets 7-6(4) 6-1 win.

 

Johanna Konta [11] v Petra Kvitova [5] – H2H: Kvitova leads 1-0

It can be no exaggeration that Konta’s rise up the rankings had its roots here in the grass court summer, and translated to her run to the fourth round of the US Open, where she finally was halted by the Czech.

However facing a twice-crowned Wimbledon champion who loves being on the grass is another prospect.

That being said, Kvitova has played one less match this season on the grass, and has been sporting strapping on her thigh since being down by Jelena Ostapenko, in the second round in Birmingham.

Returning will be key for Konta – Kvitova was put under a lot of pressure by Timea Babos, and had to dig deep for the win.

Both have good solid ground-strokes and Kvitova is one of those players who knows how to make good use of her leftie serve, so she will expect some free points.

She was impressive at finishing points at the net against Babos, but less so if dragged into longer rallies, often pushed into unforced errors.

There is a chance here for Konta to progress, and with Kvitova pretty much resigning herself to a (perhaps more polite) Fed Cup atmosphere for the home crowd favourite it will be for Konta to prove it she can rise to the occasion on the tour, as well as on the big stage.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

 

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