Konta moulds together third straight win at Nature Valley Open
Johanna Konta had her eyes set on the semifinal and despite a tough start, she got what she wished at the Nature Valley Open Friday evening. What was an impressive start from Serbia’s Dalila Jakupovic ended with tremendous focus in the late stages before the number one Brit took over to win 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court at the Nottingham Tennis Centre. It was the third straight win for the world number 22 and the path she would find herself back to again.
Neither one had met before making it an interesting point in the tournament for the matchup. With Konta back playing the sort of tennis she wanted, her quest to making the grass court season just the right moment was paying off.
She blasted through her first two matches taking down Heather Watson as a sign of good things to come. Standing in her way was the newcomer who hadn’t played anyone strong so far but also hadn’t dropped a set. It would be up to her to stay in touch with Konta and try to pull off an upset.
That was how the set managed to go as the Serb stayed with Konta each time holding serve. They went like this for eight games with each one maintaining some strength on the first serve but unable to return well from the start. The second serve returns helped maintain some stability in their offence. By the ninth, Konta had gained some momentum enough to take the break and close out the set in 43 minutes.
The second set took a different path as tactics changed with Jakupovic earning a break to start against Konta. The 27-year-old responded in kind before turning the score back how she wanted it with a service to love in the third.
She continued to lead the Serb after five showing her strengths to challenge while on the return game. A second break in the set gave the world number 22 a 4-2 lead making her opponent play difficult returns.
Just when it looked like Konta had the set in the bag, the Serb found a way to strike back in the seventh game. She clearly had the skills of adjusting quickly threatening the Brit’s service game. Konta got to deuce in time to take her first advantage point and win it with a big winner. She went on to destroy the hopes of Jakupovic smashing away to get herself into the semifinals for the second time after 1 hour and 16 minutes.
“It was very tricky out here again,” Konta said to Eurosport’s Annabelle Croft. “It was quite actually windier than I expected and I’d never played her before so it was an adjustment for me. With her third win in a row this season the numbers for Konta proved her excellence and comfort on the grass courts finishing with 71 percent of points won on the first serve and no unforced errors.
“I’m competing well,” she said about her game so far in the tournament. “To be able to fight every single point regardless of how you’re playing or how you’re feeling is in the forefront of my mind. I’m enjoying getting more matches under my belt and I’ve got one more.” Once again, she found herself playing Donna Vekic in Nottingham where the Croatian beat her in last year’s finals.
“We’ve had some incredible battles, especially the last two times we’ve played.” “She plays really well on this surface and brings a lot of good things from her game so I’m looking forward to the challenge and it'll be a great test for me as well.”
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