By Ros Satar
- Johanna Konta def. Jelena Ostapenko  6-7(6) 6-1 6-2
- Johanna Konta v Victoria Azarenka
- H2H: Tied at 1-1
MONTREAL, CANADA – Johanna Konta seems to have found some confidence but Victoria Azarenka was equally impressive after having to retire in San José.
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Johanna Konta def. Jelena Ostapenko  6-7(6) 6-1 6-2
It always looked like a tough ask for Johanna Konta to replicate a decent start to the US hard court season in San José with a start against the No. 11 seed Jelena Ostapenko. For the Brit, it was a little more of a battle to earn this match-up. Somewhat unlucky to come out on the losing side of a tie-break first set, Konta showed that she had regained the ability to regroup and battle for the win. It might not have been the prettiest tennis out there, but it earns her another chance to pick up her ranking, which plummeted after an early exit at Wimbledon.
The first set was a great start for the Brit, leaping out to a 3-0 lead, but a couple of breaks for Ostapenko put them back on an even keep, with another trade of breaks for good measure. Konta was never more than level in the tie-break as neither seemed particular keen on holding on to a serve, with Ostapenko perhaps lucky to just nip the first set.
The exchanges with new coach Glenn Schaap at times made for awkward viewing as the Latvian began to unravel. Konta book-ended the second set with breaks before things got messy once more with a flurry of breaks before Konta regained the advantage, finishing with another break and a serve to love.
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Johanna Konta v Victoria Azarenka | H2H tied at 1-1
With identical form on the hard courts since the start of this swing – three matches in San José and opening wins here in Montreal, there is little to separate Konta and Victoria Azarenka. Both have had their fair share of tribulations to deal with in the last 12 months.
Konta’s form dipped after her run last year to the Wimbledon semi-final, and Azarenka’s on going custody battle for her son kept her off the court until she was finally able to make a more cohesive return earlier this year.
Her injury withdrawal in San José looked alarming enough to cause concern as to whether she would even be able to play in the opening round, but her subsequent demolition of Kristina Mladenovic was reminiscent of Konta’s surprising win over Serena Williams in California.
We can expect aggressive trades back and forth once more as these two get going, and when on form Azarenka is even and relentless off both weeks, and more importantly is consistent. Konta can expect to be moved around the court, and will look to burn the Brit with drop-shots, and while Konta is working hard to improve her volleying finesse at the net, that is still an area of weakness for her.
As always, if Konta’s serve is firing well, then the rest of her game has a tendency to follow suit, and she might grab a few free points there, and at this stage, she ought to take anything.
Prediction: Azarenka in three sets.
Konta and Azarenka are scheduled on Court Banque Nationale, not before 4:30pm (9:30pm BST).
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