By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta v Elise Mertens [7]
  • Head to head 1-1
  • Konta believed to be trialling with Dimitri Zavialoff (source: BBC Sport)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Trails a plenty for Johanna Konta as she has a tough start to her last tournament of the year, after ending her association with Michael Joyce.

 

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Johanna Konta v Elise Mertens [7] | Head to head 1-1

Johanna Konta speaking with Michael Joyce in the first round of the Sydney International, 2018

Johanna Konta speaking with Michael Joyce in the first round of the Sydney International, 2018 | (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

A rough season will come to an end for British No. 1 Johanna Konta, as she draws the No. 7 seed Elise Mertens in her Kremlin Cup opener in Moscow. Konta split with a third coach in as many years, when she and Michael Joyce parted ways.

Her form has been variable, and her consistency has been elusive in a season which saw her fall from a career high of No. 4 to No. 45. However, she has had the measure of the Belgian, who has had a solid season which started very well for her in Australia and saw her pick up titles in Hobart, Rabat and Lugano at the start of the year. The second half of her year may not have been so loaded but she has been consistently in quarter-finals.

The year for Konta started innocuously enough with a run to the Brisbane quarter-final, but her best performance came in Nottingham as she reached the final for the second time in a row, and indeed her last quarter-final appearance was a loss to Mertens in San Jose.

Elise Mertens in the quarter-final of the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018

Elise Mertens in the quarter-final of the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Konta can expect be given a bit of a work out as Mertens excels in pushing her opponents around the court, directed by a solid forehand, and her defence from the back of the court, yet she is also just as comfortable finishing up at the net.

Konta’s aggressive style of play when it is backed up with her serve firing well – when that happens it all seems to come together for the Brit.

This tournament should see her trialling a potential new coach in Dimitri Zavialoff. As reported by BBC Sport, she could be putting her faith in the man who helped Stan Wawrinka from his formative years as an eight-year-old to reaching the World Top 10 before they parted ways in 2010, after 17 years together.

It is also all change in terms of agency and management as she has now switched from Octagon to StarWing Sports, which also manages British Men’s No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Zavialoff helped Timea Bacsinszky continue her colourful career after taking a break from the sport entirely. They started working in 2013 and during that time the Swiss reached the Top 10, two French Open semi-finals and the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2016 before injuries saw their partnership end in May.

Konta (and perhaps Zavialoff) have their work cut out in her debut in Moscow, having had to withdraw last year with a foot injury. Konta had just one win in the Asian swing, while Mertens finally found her groove to reach the quarter-final in Tianjin after a slow start in China.

Prediction: Mertens in three sets.

 

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