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Konta happy to show she has no Paris hangover

 

Moving on: Johanna Konta during her first-round Nature Valley Classic win over Anett Kontaveit
Moving on: Johanna Konta during her first-round Nature Valley Classic win over Anett Kontaveit

By Eleanor Crooks

Johanna Konta made a seamless transition from clay to grass with an impressive first-round win at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.

The British No.1 defeated big-hitting Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-2 in her first match since her brilliant run to the French Open semi-finals.

Konta said: "No match guarantees anything but I enjoyed being on the grass playing the match I played. I had a very tough opponent and I had to really make sure I didn't have too many dips in my level because she was always going to be there."

Konta had insisted on leaving Paris that there was nothing for her to regret despite a glorious chance to make a first Grand Slam final.

The 28-year-old was the only player in the last four who had previously reached that stage at a Slam but she lost to 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova.

There certainly appears to be no emotional hangover, with Konta saying: "I thought I did a good job at digesting the good things that I did and learning from the things I want to do differently next time.

"More than anything, I came away really looking forward to keep going and keep enjoying playing the tennis I'm playing.

"I started playing when I was a little girl because I dreamt of being No.1 in the world and winning Grand Slams and that is still why I play."

There was disappointment for British No.2 Heather Watson, who let a lead slip in a 3-6 6-3 6-4 defeat by Barbora Strycova.

Watson was unhappy with a number of line calls and declined to shake the umpire's hand at the end of the match.

"I was in a bad mood," said Watson. "A lot of things were getting to me. I didn't sleep great last night so that is why I was in a bad mood, just over-thinking the match and I just really wanted to win.

"And maybe I wanted to win too badly and so I didn't keep my focus.

"I thought there were so many bad line calls. She's sat right on the line and I thought that was really annoying. In my last two matches, I've got broken and lost a set purely on bad line calls."

Watson is languishing at 122 in the world rankings and may need a wildcard for Wimbledon, but she is at least out of the eight-match winless run that stretched from January to early May.

"I was really upset when I came off the court today because I just felt that I was the better player most of that match," she said.

"But my coach just put it into perspective for me, thinking back to some of the tournaments we were at earlier on where I literally could barely put balls in the court.

"I was really happy with my level today. There wasn't much in it at all and I thought it was a high-quality match."

World No.3 Karolina Pliskova began her campaign with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu but there were defeats for fourth seed Elina Svitolina and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Svitolina, whose season has been disrupted by a knee injury, went down 6-3 3-6 6-4 to Russia's Margarita Gasparyan, while Sabalenka was beaten 6-3 2-6 7-6 (1) by Hsieh Su-wei.

Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie missed out on one of the biggest scalps of his career at Queen's Club after going down in three sets to last year's Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson.

The British No.2 looked on course to kick off his grass-court campaign in style at the Fever-Tree Championships after taking the first set.

But Anderson, the current World No.8, levelled the first-round match on the tie-break and a solitary break of the Norrie serve in the decider gave him a 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-4 victory.

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