By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta def. Gabriela Dabrowski 6-2 6-0
  • Faces Donna Vekic who ousted No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens.
TOKYO, JAPAN – Johanna Konta looked in commanding form as she breezed past qualifier Gabriela Dabrowski to set up a second-round clash with Donna Vekic.

 

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Johanna Konta def. Gabriela Dabrowski 6-2 6-0

Hopefully banishing the memories of a slump to the end of last season, British No. 1 Johanna Konta came out swinging against Canadian qualifier Gabriela Dabrowski.

It was a competitive enough start to the match, before Konta came out the better of a tussle back and forth from deuce, converting her first break point chance to take a 4-2 lead, before breaking Dabrowski for a second time to claim the first set.

Finishing off a 10-game streak, she shut the Canadian out of the match, although it took Konta four match points to earn the win.

As reported in WTA.com after the match, she acknowledged that the score-line perhaps did not underline the battle: “It was a tough match, the score-line didn’t show the quality of it. She definitely played really well in parts and I had to really raise my level to come through that.

“I had to be tough out there. She was playing some great tennis. I had to focus on every single point and accept she was going to play some good tennis.”

 

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Konta v Donna Vekic | H2H: Konta leads 3-1

Donna Vekic in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley Open, WTA Nottingham 2018

Donna Vekic in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley Open, WTA Nottingham 2018 | (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA)

As dominant as this head to head looks, it should be noted that their best battles came on the turf last year, as Donna Vekic beat Konta in the 2017 final, before the pair had an epic match in the second round of Wimbledon before Konta went on to reach the semi-final.

Since then though, it is fair to say that fortunes have been mixed for the pair. Konta’s struggles with form and contentment on the court have been well documented, and she seems to have turned a corner in that regard with a slight upswing of results.

Vekic has shifted up the rankings this year, hitting a career high this year of No. 37, after reaching the final of Washington at the start of the US Open swing. She might have sipped bacl a bit and the pair are close enough in the rankings for this to set up an intriguing encounter.

Both have decent serves which can pack a punch, and Vekic will more than match Konta blow for blow with her ground-strokes. What stands out for the Croatian is her defence, switching from aggressive play to defending with ease. Konta will want to take time away from her, and expect her to be raining down body blows from the off.

Since their battles in 2017, Konta eased past her in the Nottingham semi-final but Vekic looked to be struggling slightly with injury at the time. She was in impressive form against Sloane Stephens, and this will not be a pushover.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Konta & Vekic are scheduled to play their second round match on Thursday.

 

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