By Jake Davies
- Johanna Konta  vs Kurumi Nara
- H2H: Konta leads 6-1
NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM – Johanna Konta kickstarts her 2018 grass court season in Nottingham, where she is defending big final points from last year.
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Johanna Konta  vs Kurumi Nara H2H: Konta leads 6-1
Konta is coming into this tournament after a disappointing end to her very short stay at Roland-Garros, where she lost in the opening round to Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, but she can draw upon many positives from a clay-court swing that was perhaps one of her more successful experiences on that surface to date. She made baby steps in Madrid and Rome and now has a part of the season to look forward to, where she usually tends to play very well and with much more confidence.
Konta’s first opponent in the opening round of Nottingham is Japan’s Kurumi Nara. The Japanese has been as high as No.32 in the world back in 2014, but has since seen a serious ranking drop. Konta’s game matches up well with this surface in comparison to the clay.
She has the weaponry to play first-strike tennis and the grass allows Konta to play sharp and quick points starting from the serve and ending with either her first or second strike in the rally. It is very hard to take shortcuts on a clay court, but grass is a surface that the aggressive players do tend to shine on.
Konta has a 6-1 record against Nara. The most recent of those meetings coming at Fed Cup earlier on in the year and Konta has already beaten Nara twice on the grass courts of Birmingham in 2013 and 2014. I think Konta enjoys this match-up because most of the points will be on her racquet and on her own terms. Nara is a very compact, consistent player from the baseline, but lacks that power play that can buy her cheap points on most surfaces. Konta should really be able to dictate from the first return onwards in this match.
Prediction: Konta in two sets.
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