By Ros Satar
- Johanna Konta def. Hsieh Su-Wei [Q] 6-0 6-4
- Faces reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round
- Leads their head to head 1-0
ROME, ITALY – Johanna Konta looked to be improving on the clay as she outplayed a tricky competitor in Su-Wei Hsieh, and sets up a third round clash with Jelena Ostapenko.
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Johanna Konta def. Hsieh Su-Wei [Q] 6-0 6-4
There might have been a few nerves for the British No. 1 Johanna Konta, having been in a commanding position before the crafty Hsieh Su-Wei found her way back into the match, eventually halting Konta’s progress in the opening round of the French Open last year.
Much as before, there was little that Hsieh could do against some solid serving from Konta, who rapidly ploughed through the first set without dropping a game. Even though Konta made it seven games won on the trot, she was pegged back immediately as Hsieh finally got on the board and played a lot more competitively.
Credit to Konta who dug in resolutely to break Hsieh twice in succession, and that double break cusion came in handy as she was broken straight back as she tried to serve out the match, and failed to capitalise on two match points as she tried to break for it.
She needed a further three match points to close out the win on her own serve, as she reached the third round for the third straight year in Rome.
Konta v Jelena Ostapenko  | H2H: Konta leads 1-0
It has been a relatively steady year for the reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Her best results came in reaching the Miami final, but her time on clay has been a little stop-start. This time last year, she had reached the Charleston final, the Prague semi-final and played her way through Rome qualifying and won a round in the main draw, so her ascent to her maiden Slam was a bit of a surprise.
This time around she picked up two Fed Cup wins, the quarter-final in Stuttgart (although I reality it was just one win with a bye) and was bounced out of Madrid in the opening round. She was tested a little in her opener at the hands of Konta’s doubles partner Zhang Shuai, and now she faces the other half of the team.
Konta’s win over Ostapenko came on the Eastbourne grass so we cannot read too much into that win, but she is probably a little more at home on the dirt. That being said, there was much improved movement from Konta on the clay on Wednesday and with each match she gets under her feet, whether it be singles or doubles, it is helping her a lot.
She also managed to keep her focus against a foe that can work her way back into a match, which is something we had not seen too often at the tail end of last year.
What she can expect from Ostapenko is a lot more aggression over the other side of the net than she saw with Hsieh. Ostapenko will look to get her moving by aiming for the lines and the corners, and her change of direction will test Konta’s sliding to the extreme. Both hit powerfully of both wings but as we have seen before, if Konta’s serving is working well, then the rest of her game tends to follow.
This will be another tough battle – Konta cannot expect to steal a march on Ostapenko as she did against Hsieh, and Ostapenko needs to pick up a bit of a head of steam as she heads towards the defence of her maiden Slam.
Prediction: Ostapenko in three sets.
Konta and Ostapenko are scheduled on Court 3 at 11am (10am BST).
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