Johanna Konta's brave bid at the Nottingham Open was ended by Monica Niculescu at the quarter-finals stage yesterday. The British number two had an encouraging tournament up to that point but found the Romanian just too good on the day in a topsy-turvy three set tussle. Niculescu joined the top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and the American Alison Riske in the semi-finals.
Good week's work
Konta can be pleased with her week's work in Nottingham, despite the disappointing reversal in the last-eight. She is still left looking for a first semi-final spot on the WTA Tour, but showed signs that such a goal is not too far out of her reach.
Konta had looked to be gaining momentum against Niculescu after taking the second set, but could not maintain her level into the deciding (third) set, ultimately losing 2-6 6-2 2-6 to her rival in a shade over two hours and 20 minutes.
The 24year-old Australian-born player, who became a British citizen in 2012, was constantly under pressure on her serve during the match. Despite showing resilience to save 14 of the break points that she faced, there were six more during the encounter that she failed to repel.
After defeating higher ranked opponents on her route to the last-eight, the world number 147 seed was always likely to find it tough against a player ranked as high as number 61 on the WTA rankings. She struggled in the first set, losing her serve on three occasions.
The roles seemed to be reversed in the second set, as it was Niculescu who began to struggle to hold her serve instead, allowing Konta back into the match. The earlier pattern to the match was resumed in set three though, as the more favoured player took command once more.
Solid result in previous round
Earlier in the Nottingham event, Konta had encouragingly defeated the Puerto Rican Monica Puig to reach the last-eight, a player some 58 places higher in the rankings. That match had proved to be a test of her strength of character, with the finish being carried over into Thursday and also remaining close throughout. She ultimately came through that long match in three sets after two hours and 19 minutes of action. The remnants of that effort could well have had a bearing on her eventual defeat in the quarter-finals one suspects.
Busy schedule ahead
With a busy schedule ahead of her, Konta can now look forward to what she hopes will be a successful summer. Next week she heads to the Aegon Classic in Birmingham as a wildcard entrant, with the Eastbourne event following that. There is also the little matter of playing in front of the vociferous home crowds at #Wimbledon in the coming weeks. The three matches on grass that she got under her belt in Nottingham should help her at the prestigious Grand Slam event one suspects, with many players yet to move on after the finish of the clay court season.
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