By Ros Satar, at Indian Wells
- Kiki Bertens  def. Johanna Konta 7-6(10) 6-4
- Konta talks about working with former coach of Stan Wawrinka, Dimitri Z
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA USA – Johanna Konta was edged out once more in the third round of Indian Wells by No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens.
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Kiki Bertens  def. Johanna Konta 7-6(10) 6-4
Despite being just ahead in their head to head, this was always going to be a tough match up for Johanna Konta. In 2018, Kiki Bertens had a breakout year, winning the Cincinnati title and proving she was more than just a solid clay-court player, and on a surface that has sometimes been compared to clay, she made it count.
It was the Dutchwoman who broke first, but as pegged straight back as the pair battled their way to a tie-break. The lead would switch back and forth as Konta first played catch up and then was the first to hold a set point. She would see three set points go by, while Bertens converted on her third try to take the lead.
The second set was an even tighter affair, but while Konta might rue her missed chances to take the lead, Bertens took her chance in the penultimate game to finally break on her fourth try before taking the match in the next game on her third match-point.
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Working with Dimitri Zavialoff
After trialling with Dimitri Zavialoff at the end of last year before hiring him on a permanent basis, there has been a return to the gritty style of play that saw Konta break through in 2016 and continue that trend to the first half of 2017. Bit by bit the match wins are coming and being ground out, and Konta explained the differences that Zavialoff has made to her game, after her win over Hsieh Su-Wei in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.
“We’re working on really for me to apply more awareness in the game, just to be able to have a better awareness of what my opponent’s doing, have trust in the different things that I bring to the court. More just kind of opening up my vision, in the sense of giving myself the option to use different things at different times.
“I’m very good sticking to one thing, and sticking to it well, so that’s obviously a strength of mine but it can also sometimes limit me so I think we’re just working on having a bit more adaptability and awareness in how matches go, and how opponents also adapt to how I play.”
It is clear to see what areas Konta has worked on this year. Not always renowned for her deftness at the net, we saw her try and pull Bertens way off the baseline with drop-shots, that worked to a point until the Dutchwoman became wise and with her own finesse at the net, burned Konta a couple of times with a cross-court pick-up right at the net.
Konta said: “I actually think I got more of them right than wrong. I thought there was a portion in the second set where she started reading them well. However, she was quite far behind the baseline so I wanted to obviously use the area of the court I felt she was less in.
“I think at the beginning I definitely thought I used them very well and I used them at the right time. I think as the match went on she started reading it better. I think what she does do very well is read the game well so probably can look to just disguise it a bit better, pick my moments better. but overall, I thought it was the right thing to do against her, and I think it also enabled me to play certain other shots as well within the points, to have more effectiveness with them.”
With a week of the tournament left before the Sunshine Double continues in the new venue in Miami, Konta revealed she would probably remain in Palm Springs, as many players tend to do after first week losses, before heading over to Miami, which has moved from its former Key Biscayne home for the first time this year, to the Hard Rock Stadium.
Konta said: “Well to be honest obviously it’s a new venue so I don’t know how different it will be, how different it will feel. In Key Biscayne it’s almost like the opposite compared to here. Obviously, there it’s a lot more humid, the ball sticks a bit more than here, so I assume it will be similar conditions.
“However, I don’t know how different it will be. Again, in Key Biscayne it used to be reasonably windy. I don’t know if that will be different to where it will be now. Literally I have no idea what to expect, where we’re going (laughing). I think everyone’s probably looking forward to seeing what this new place holds.”
In the meantime, there is some sight-seeing to get done, as she continued: “I think I want to take my boyfriend up that mountain – that carousel that goes up to the top. I think he’ll enjoy that. Maybe even go to the Joshua Tree.”
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