By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati

  • Johanna Konta v Aryna Sabalenka
  • First Meeting
CINCINNATI, USA – Johanna Konta targets another jump up the rankings but faces the Eastbourne finalist Aryna Sabalenka in the opening round.


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Johanna Konta v Aryna Sabalenka | First Meeting

British No. 1 Johanna Konta will be hoping her upwards trajectory back up the rankings will continue, as she kicks off her campaign against Aryna Sabalenka in the opening round of the Western and Southern Open.

Konta’s ranking of course tumbled after an early exit at Wimbledon but has rallied a little since the start of the hard court summer. She reached the quarter-finals of San Jose and picked up another couple of wins before losing to Elina Svitolina in Montreal, but has already made up a little ground.

Aryna Sabalenka in the second round of the Nature Valley International, WTA Eastbourne 2018

Aryna Sabalenka in the second round of the Nature Valley International, WTA Eastbourne 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Sabalenka won over an army of new fans with her big hitting and fight at Eastbourne as she fought through three setters to make the Eastbourne final, and is not averse to claiming a few big scalps along the way, including ousting her Eastbourne conqueror Caroline Wozniacki along the way last week in Montreal.

Both players have a very aggressive style and Sabalenka is perfectly at home clobbering the ball heavy from the baseline. She has an effective serve too, and likes to come forward and volley but perhaps her movement could still be improved.

Konta’s own aggressive game is often built on her serve – if that is firing well, then everything else in her game tends to fall into place. While she can still be a little variable at the net, there has been a marked improvement with the inclusion of a lot of doubles into her game.

On paper there really is not much to separate them, but looking at the start of the US hard court swing, Konta perhaps has been just a little more consistent but will still need to work hard for this one.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.




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