British No 1 Jo Konta was beaten after a two hour and 27-minute battle, 4-6 6-3 6-4 by Belarussia’s Aryna Sabalenka, the world No34, in their opening round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Konta made a strong start by taking the first break of the game at 3-3, but Sabalenka, a rising 20-year-old starlet, immediately broke back.
From there, the pair thrashed it out in a difficult game which saw Konta reach five break points, ultimately breaking her opponent with a powerful forehand to lead 5-4 and hold on to take the set.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the second, Konta’s games started to flag as she delivered five double faults to lose two service games.
The world number 34 took full advantage to take the set 6-3 to level the match and, with Konta’s serve still stuttering in the third set, she was broken to give Sabalenka the break she needed though she struggled to secure the second round place but eventually did on her fourth match point.