By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros

  • Johanna Konta [26] v Antonia Lottner | First Meeting
  • Konta has reached two finals this season on clay (Rabat, Rome)
  • Lottner did not drop a set en route through qualifying
PARIS, FRANCE – Johanna Konta nabbed both a seeding and a qualifier as well as reaching her first two tour level clay court finals this season. Will this be her year to advance past the first round?

 

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Johanna Konta [26] v Antonia Lottner | First Meeting

British No. 1 Johanna Konta is on one hell of an upswing this season on the dirt. After two lots of Fed Cup heroics within months of each other, she started her clay court season as planned in Rabat, and it was a plan that paid off as she progressed to her first clay court final, just coming up short against the very solid clay court play of Maria Sakkari.

While the speedy altitude of Madrid saw her catch Simona Halep napping briefly in their second round encounter, the reigning Roland Garros champion was just too good, but that continued momentum carried her through in her most successful clay court environment in Rome.

She did not quite get it together in the final against Karolina Pliskova, but with the environment in the Eternal City more closely mimicking the conditions will experience in France, it surely will be a solid confidence boost.

Antonia Lottner in the second round of qualification, Roland Garros 2019

Antonia Lottner in the second round of qualification, Roland Garros 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photographer

She will face a German qualifier who certainly won’t be short on confidence herself. Antonia Lottner started by taking out the No. 7 seed in qualifying, and never looked back, not dropping a set on the way into the main draw for the first time in three attempts coming through the qualification process.

We have seen what that means to players throughout the whole of the qualifying week, and she will not want to be making up the numbers.

What has been fascinating to watch is how Konta has tried to introduce more variety (including those drop-shots that fluctuate from behind-the-sofa viewing to winning combinations.

Konta cannot simply change the aggressive way she plays, but she can introduce a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C when the need arises – partly down to the practice of coach Dimitri Zavialoff, with whom she partnered towards the end of last year. He prefers not to come down to give advice in coaching time-outs (only used on the tour, and not in Grand Slams) and it certainly seems to be working.

Lottner will look to go for her shots, much like Konta’s aggressive first-strike style of tennis, and Konta’s best bet will be to make Lottner move, and better still change direction which has proved at times to be problematic for the 6ft, 1in tall German.

This is unlikely to be a complete breeze for the Rome finalist and she will have to earn her first win at Roland Garros. But having been languishing outside the Top 40 before Rome and landing squarely in the Top 30 by the end of the week – this does feel like this is on her racquet to lose.

Konta and Lottner are scheduled first on Court No. 7 at 11am (10am BST).

 

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