Konta safely through to third round in Nottingham
• 4 MINUTE READ
British No.1 Johanna Konta got off to a winning start at the Viking Open Nottingham – defeating Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-1, 6-3.
Returning to Nottingham for her first grass court event of the season, Konta looked in fine form as she cruised through to the third round on Centre Court.
She applied the pressure from the first ball of the match – hitting with power and precision from the baseline and forcing her opponent onto the defensive. She broke in the third game of the set after Pattinama Kerkhove landed a double fault.
From there, the World No.20 showcased her full repertoire of shots – a couple of delicate drop shots mid-way through the set and thundering winners across all areas of the court took her to 5-1. That coupled with a 100% winning record on first serves and three converted break points wrapped up a one-set lead for the Brit.
It was much of the same in the second set – an early double break for Konta rounded off nine consecutive games and the match looked all but finished at 3-0.
There were glimpses of fight from Pattinama Kerkhove who broke for the first time in the match, before claiming a steady hold to get to 3-3.
Konta soon shifted gear and hit a series of impressive returns before regaining her break advantage. She continued to serve well, picking up an easy hold before wrapping up the victory at the first time of asking.
Addressing the crowd on court after the match, she said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to play in front of you all again. Honestly, it’s not the same playing without you around so it really means a lot.
“For me, grass is one of the most fun surfaces we play on – it asks different things of your game, it makes you think differently – so it’s a really fun challenge. It’s extra special for the Brits to be playing at home too.
Konta will now face Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova after she defeated 13th seed Madison Brengle in the early match in the day.
Third on Centre Court was British No.5 Jay Clarke who lost a close match against fourth seed, Kevin Anderson 6-3, 7-6 (0).
The 2018 Wimbledon runner-up showed his experience in the opening exchanges – taking advantage of an edgy Clarke to go 3-0 up early in the match.
With Dan Evans watching on, it didn’t take long for Clarke to find his range, but he struggled to take advantage on the South African’s notorious first serve and eventually lost out in a second set tie break.
Clarke said: “Obviously I’m disappointed by the result but I enjoyed being back in Nottingham. I had a few friends and all my family come to watch today. I love playing this tournament and if I get the chance to I’ll always come back and play here. It’s so close to home, and I love everything about the environment here.”
Elsewhere, Ryan Peniston lost his opening round match against Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4. Meanwhile third seeds Ken Skupski and Matt Reid are through to the next round after beating Mackenzie McDonald and Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 2-6, 11-9.