By Ros Satar at the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham

  • Jelena Ostapenko def. Johanna Konta [7] 6-3 6-4
BIRMINGHAM, UK – British No. 1 Johanna Konta still has yet to advance past the second round at the Nature Valley Classic, as she bowed out to Jelena Ostapenko.

 

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Jelena Ostapenko def. Johanna Konta [7] 6-3 6-4

In what was always going to be a tricky draw, British No. 1 Johanna Konta found herself on an early trip back home to Eastbourne, after losing in straight sets to Jelena Ostapenko, who suddenly seems to be finding some form on the grass.

On a surprisingly dry and at times bright day in Birmingham, when compared to the gloomier forecasts, Ostapenko’s high risk approach shots all seemed to find the lines and hit the marks, as Konta seemed to be struggling with the pace coming at her.

Taking the ball early and applying sustained pressure saw Konta on the back foot on more than one occasion, going down 0-3 in the first set and never really able to challenge. Things were a little more in the balance with Konta recovering an early break, only for Ostapenko to shut that down immediately.

As well as introducing us all to her beloved Dachshund Bono, Konta was quick to acknowledge that when Ostapenko’s game is on, there is little that can be done.

She said, after the match: “It is quite frustrating to be on the court against her because it felt like any mistake I made had a bigger consequence just because I had so few opportunities in the match and so few little windows to try and build any momentum or string points together.

“But I knew going into the match that there was going to be every possibility that she was going to be playing like this and I was expecting it because there is no reason why she can’t play freely and when she does, she plays very well.

“I still thought I did quite a lot of good things out there, I just didn’t get an opportunity to do too much more (smiling).”

Jelena Ostapenko after the first round of the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham 2019

Jelena Ostapenko after the first round of the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

For Ostapenko, who last won back to back matches at the start of April in Charleston, this was a solid win, and her belief is definitely on the way up.

“It was a good match from my side. I had nothing to lose because Jo is in great form right now and she made the semis at Roland Garros. She is a very good player on grass. So, I came into the match without any expectations, but I tried to play my game and be more aggressive. And I think that helped me to win today to be more aggressive, so I didn’t really give her time to play her game.

“I think it is about grass. It’s very hard to move on grass and if you hit the ball hard, it’s harder for the opponent to hit the ball back because it’s coming much faster than on the other surfaces, and the bounce is much lower, so I’m just trying to be even more aggressive and if I have a chance, I just got for the shots.

“If I’m going to be more consistent, it will be harder for the players to beat me. And I’m just trying to find my consistency and get my confidence back and I think once I have it, I will be a very dangerous player (smiling).”

Ostapenko matches her previous best performance of reaching the quarter-finals on her debut in 2016.

 

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