Nottingham | Konta and Watson to clash
Jo Konta faces an important period with a large amount of ranking points to defend during the grass court swing so there was delight in her camp as she got off to a good start at the Nottingham Open now sponsored by Nature Valley.
The British No.1 and fourth seed at the tournament where she was runner-up last year, scored a satisfying 6-2 6-3 win over Japan’s Kurumi Nara to progress to a last 16 meeting with the British No.2 Heather Watson, a 6-1 6-3 winner over qualifier Danielle Lao.
Right now, I feel good where I am and I am healthy, which is the most important thing. I am definitely enjoying the challenges I am facing and am really just looking forward to trying to make it to the end of each tournament that I play. Jo Konta
On being asked whether she expected a tough match with her compatriot, Konta replied: “100 per cent, every match is tough. There are no easy matches regardless of who you play and what number they have next to their names. So, most definitely. And I know she plays well on this surface, she enjoys playing on this surface.
“She also loves playing in front of the home crowd, so I think that it will be a really great match. I am really looking forward to a really tough challenge like that, I think that will be a positive thing for me to compete through.”
She added: “Right now, I feel good where I am and I am healthy, which is the most important thing. I am definitely enjoying the challenges I am facing and am really just looking forward to trying to make it to the end of each tournament that I play.”
Britain’s No.4, Katie Boulter, 20, also progressed to the second round with a straight sets 6-4 6-4 win over Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer.
However, Brits Gabriella Taylor and Katie Swan both suffered tough defeats after being handed a wildcard and coming through qualifying respectively.
Taylor faced last year’s champion Donna Vekic and lost out 5-7 7-5 6-7, while Swan competed well with Mona Barthel before succumbing 7-6(5) 7-5.
Commenting on her win, Vekic, the sixth seed, said: “That was a tough match – I knew she was going to play well because she’s already had a few matches on grass.
“It was my first match so I was struggling a little bit to find some rhythm, but I think winning 7-6 in the third is very good for my confidence.”
In other action the Australian top seed Ashleigh Barty a quarter-finalist at the tournament in 2016 and 2017, proved why grass was her favourite surface as she swept aside Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-3 to progress to the last-16.
“It was pretty clean for a first match on grass. I’m very pleased with that,” Barty said. “The beauty of grasscourt tennis is that you get better with matches, and there’s no better way than to get out there and try to fix up your game.”