Beware qualifiers! If she hasn’t heeded this before, Johanna Konta does so now, as she suffered a 4th straight singles defeat at the St Petersburg Ladies Open when she lost to France’s Oceane Dodin, 6-3 6-4, on Wednesday, the World No 159.
I’m just very happy with my game right now. I’m very happy to be here and to be in the quarter-finals, and we will see. Oceane Dodin
The win was Dodin’s first against a top-10 player in her career.
“I’m just very happy with my game right now,” Dodin told the press, after her win. “I’m very happy to be here and to be in the quarter-finals, and we will see.”
The 23-year-old has not dropped a set in her two main-draw and two qualifying wins during this event.
“The last [Top 20 win] was, I think, 3 years ago!” Dodin laughed, referring to her win over Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid in 2017. “So, this is incredible.”
Formerly a Top 50 player, Dodin has struggled with her health over the last two seasons while dealing with vertigo, and was ranked No 332 at this time last year.
Now back up to World No 159, the Frenchwoman has earned consecutive Tour-level wins for the first time since a semi-final run at the Citi Open in Washington in 2017.
By contrast, Konta’s lack of match play was obvious as she succumbed to Dodin in straight sets after nearly an hour and a half.
Konta began the season still battling to recover from the knee injury that prompted her to bring a premature end to her hugely-successful 2019 campaign but the British No 1 has not won a match since 1 September at the US Open, having gone out in the opening round of the Brisbane International and the Australian Open.
The World No 14 was making only her third singles appearance since her quarter-final loss to Elina Svitolina at the US Open, receiving a bye in Russia.
A run of 5 successive games lost at the end of the first set and start of the second proved decisive against Dodin, with Konta unable to take two chances to break back in the final game.
The two players had matched each other through the first 7 games, as the score went with serve until Dodin stepped up to take control.
Konta found herself a break down in the second set and failed to recover the deficit as the No 4 seed exited the tournament prematurely.
The 28-year old made her return from injury when she and doubles partner Caroline Garcia won 6-3 3-6 [10-5] against Germany’s Vivian Heisen & Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine on Monday, but has yet to enjoy the same success in singles.
Next up for the British No 1, she will team up with Garcia to face Sweden’s Cornelia Lister & Czech Republic’s Renata Voracova in the quarter-finals of the doubles in Russia.
Konta opted out of Great Britain’s Fed Cup tie with Slovakia last weekend, instead taking a wild card into the WTA tournament in Russia.
Team GB, unfortunately lost, but Captain Anne Keothavong is reportedly trying to persuade Konta to return for their must-win play-off against Mexico on 17-18 April.