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Johanna Konta hails mind guru's input after victory

By Tom Allnutt

Published 02/09/2015

Gutted: Laura Robson exits the US Open after first round loss
Gutted: Laura Robson exits the US Open after first round loss

Britain's Johanna Konta praised the help of a psychologist for settling her nerves after clinching the second grand slam victory of her career against Louisa Chirico at the US Open.

Konta had reached round two of a major tournament only once before, at Flushing Meadows in 2012, and she repeated the feat with a convincing 6-3 6-0 win over the American wildcard.

Britain's Aljaz Bedene is also through after his opponent Ernests Gulbis retired injured but there were first round defeats for Laura Robson, who lost to Elena Vesnina, and James Ward, who was beaten by Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.

Konta's win means she has now managed 14 consecutive victories and the 24-year-old will face either ninth seed Garbine Muguruza or Germany's Carina Witthoeft in the second round.

The British number two has always been a sound hitter from the baseline but has previously struggled for the power and, more particularly, mental toughness to capitalise on winning positions.

Leading 5-2 in the first set against Chirico, it seemed tension might take over again when the American clawed a game back and opened up 0-40 on the Konta serve, but the Briton regained her composure to come back and serve out.

When asked about the cause of her hot streak, Konta pointed to "mental coach" Juan Coto, a friend of her Spanish coach Esteban Carril.

Coto is usually employed by hedge fund managers and city workers but he has been helping Konta since the end of last year.

"The big thing is being able to relax," Konta said.

"It's not about releasing the tension, it's about managing it," she added.

Closing out a winning position proved problematic too for Robson, who threw away a 4-0 lead in the deciding set against world number 108 Vesnina to lose 3-6 6-3 7-5.

"Any loss is tough but that one especially, because if we're being honest I should have won," Robson said.

Bedene was successful after Latvian Gulbis retired at 3-6 6-4 3-0.

But there was disappointment for Ward who was beaten by Bellucci 6-1 7-5 6-3.

Former champion Roger Federer was a comfortable 6-1 6-2 6-2 winner over Leonardo Mayer, while Caroline Wozniacki cruised through when defeating American Jamie Loeb 6-2 6-0.

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