Konta wins fourth career title at Nottingham
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Johanna Konta lifted the fourth WTA title of her career and first on grass after defeating fourth seed Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-1 in just one hour.
Konta became the first British woman to win a WTA singles title on home soil since Sue Barker won in Brighton back in 1981.
In an opening set dominated by the British No.1 it was Zhang who would have the first opportunity to break.
In the second game Konta came in off an excellent serve down the tee but failed to put away the volley. Zhang has been in impressive form this week – including a victory over seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic – but struggled on her return and with a golden opportunity, she pushed the backhand wide. Konta held and that would set her up for arguably the best four games of tennis she’s played all week.
Facing the fourth seed’s serve, Konta came back from 30-0 down to set up a chance to grab the early lead. On her first break point, the Brit forced Zhang wide and rushed in to polish of a smash down the centre of the court – advantage Konta.
She was well and truly in the zone - blasting through her service game and securing a double break with an exquisite back hand drop shot.
The serve has been a key weapon for Konta this week and Zhang, like many others, struggled to deal with the pace she was hitting at. The British No.1 won 85% of points on her first serve and she closed out the set in 31 minutes with a stunning ace out wide at 40-0.
Zhang looked a shadow of the player who had dominated throughout the week but Konta made her work hard to stay in each and every point.
A series of venomous returns from the Brit, coupled with further unforced errors from Zhang gifted Konta an early break in the second set – there was only ever going to be one winner.
Having finished runner-up twice in Nottingham, Konta was determined to make it third time lucky and she rounded off a brilliant performance in style. After going a break up she lost only six points in the rest of the match.
After lifting her first Viking Open Nottingham title, Konta said: “I don’t take this for granted by any means – I’ve lost a few finals in the last few that I’ve played and it’s very hard to win tournaments so I know how lucky I am to be here with the winning trophy.
“I love Nottingham, I love this Centre Court, it’s a beautiful court to play on and thank you everyone for coming out and supporting.
“This trophy is called the Elena Baltacha trophy – she hasn’t been with us for a number of years but still to this day she was a massive influence on me as a young girl in this country. For me, winning this trophy means that much more and I just wanted to say thank you to her.”
In the WTA doubles final earlier in the day, Lyudmyla Kichenok and Makoto Ninomya defeated second seeds Caroline Dolehide and Storm Sanders 6-4, 6-7 (3), 10-8. The pair held off an inspired comeback from the American’s to lift their first title as a team.