By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros

  • Johanna Konta [26] def. Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2 6-1
  • Faces Donna Vekic [23] in the fourth round
  • H2H Tied at 3-3
PARIS, FRANCE – Johanna Konta continues to break British records as she becomes the first British woman to reach the fourth round in Paris since 1983.

 

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Johanna Konta [26] def. Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2 6-1

In the late evening sunshine in Paris, during a holiday weekend, it seemed apt that British No. 1 Johanna Konta would achieve another little notch of history, as she became the first British woman in 36 years to reach the R16 at Roland Garros.

In those heady days we had not one, but two women get this far – Anne Hobbs (R16) and Jo Durie (semi-final). Now Konta is the only Brit standing in the singles at least. While we were expecting perhaps ‘un soupçon’ of battle from the far more rested Kuzmova, who eased through her first round, and played just four games in her second before the far more fancied Kiki Bertens had to retire.

From the start the Slovak was hitting hard, but not at all accurately as Konta broke easily at the start of the set for a 3-0 lead. There was a little flash of defiance as Kuzmova broke back but Konta, who has been suffering from a bad cold since Sunday, was having none of that, breaking twice in a row to wrap up the first set.

The pattern repeated itself with an early break for a 3-0 lead, and this time there was no revival. Kuzmova was either over-reaching or simply not moving to Konta winners pretty much anywhere in the court that she wanted.

Having played it cool throughout the tournament about the significance of her first and second wins, she allowed herself a satisfied smile as she landed the third.

She said, after the match: “I think definitely there is definitely a habitual part of winning, if you get the chance to win matches back to back you are able to draw a lot of things a little easier than
if you haven’t had that. I think you trust yourself a bit easier. Not that it’s not possible after losses. Everyone starts winning at some point and everyone loses at some point, too.

“I think it definitely helps with just being able to deal with different situations out on court. Just backing yourself to be able to come out of tough situations.”

 

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Konta [26] v Donna Vekic [23]

Donna Vekic in the third round of Roland Garros 2019, France

Donna Vekic in the third round of Roland Garros 2019, France | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

What we have coming up next could be a real treat of a match, and much more of a challenge than the sometimes statuesque Kozmova (and not in a good way). It might not have been much of a lead up to Roland Garros for Donna Vekic – she played just Stuttgart and Madrid and when taken to three sets in both, she went out after just a couple of wins in each.

The good news for Vekic is that survived her apparent three set curse in the second round, coming back from a set down, no less against Rebecca Peterson. The last two encounters have gone the way of the Croatian, and their only two three-set encounters have come with a fair bit of drama – first in the Nottingham final in 2017, swiftly followed by an epic, hard-fought second round match at Wimbledon.

Certainly, over the last few years, Vekic has been the far more superior on the dirt, but Konta marches into this 13/3 this year – which is quite the stat!

Vekic is possessed of a decent serve, good power and weight behind her shots. She can defend well, can produce some nifty angles and can look a lot more finessed than the raw aggressive game of the Brit. However, the variety Konta has looked to put into her game sometimes comes up dividends, as equally as it sends a nation to duck for cover behind the sofa. This will be a battle, both physical and mental.

Prediction: Vekic in three sets.

 

How to Watch/Follow Roland Garros

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