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Konta is doing all she can to recover for Wimbledon bid


By Declan Warrington

Johanna Konta is a significant doubt for Wimbledon having withdrawn from the semi-finals of the Aegon International with a thoracic spine injury.

The 25-year-old was in tears after a heavy fall in which she hit her head and required a near 10-minute stoppage before resuming Thursday's quarter-final victory over World No.1 Angelique Kerber.

She later insisted she had been given the all-clear to continue competing in Eastbourne, against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, but yesterday morning pulled out because of the spine injury that requires rest.

Konta, the first British woman ranked in the world's top 10 at Wimbledon since 1984, has been drawn to face Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei in the first round at SW19 on Monday, but said: "For the next 24 hours I am just looking to be resting at home.

"No books, no screens. Just to try to sleep, I didn't really sleep well last night, so I need to rest.

"I'm not thinking about (Wimbledon) right now, I just want to rest well and to make sure that I get my health back to the best place possible.

"I didn't sleep too well but that's normal after a fall. We left it as late as possible to see how things developed this morning, but just felt it wasn't quite right.

"I made the decision (to withdraw) based on the fact I'm still quite sore through my thoracic spine and I'm just basically looking to make sure I really can recover in the best way possible.

"Next week is Wimbledon but I made this decision based on looking after my health, regardless of what tournament is coming up.

"It's the upper back. It's through the upper spine basically. I can move my neck. We're not 100 per cent certain yet (about the recovery time required). Things will become clearer in the next 24 hours of how we manage things."

The development potentially represents further disappointment for domestic tennis. Andy Murray is presently managing a hip injury, meaning the men's and women's British No.1s' participation at Wimbledon is far from guaranteed.

Konta had also impressed on Thursday in defeating Kerber on the same afternoon as reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Hsieh eliminated her in the first round at Roland Garros, and she said: "I'm just resting for the next 24 hours. That's all it is.

"Right now my priority is to look after myself. I'm looking to make sure I'm in a good place physically and health-wise to be able to compete next week, but most importantly to be in a good place health-wise.

"It's definitely not an ideal situation. Again, the most important thing is my health, regardless of the tournament next week. Our seasons are very long. I'd like to think I have many years left."

As if the spinal injury she suffered at Eastbourne was not painful enough for Konta, the Wimbledon draw brought more bad news for the British No.1.

The difficulties start with Konta's opener, in which she will take on Hsieh, the 31-year-old from Taiwan who shocked her in the first round of the recent French Open with her creative game.

If she overcomes that hurdle, Konta is likely to face another player who has beaten her in the last month. Croatia's Donna Vekic, who is climbing back up the world rankings after initially failing to build on her early promise, beat Konta in the final at Nottingham.

While Konta would be expected to beat her scheduled third-round opponent, Roberta Vinci, the Briton could take on the tournament favourite, Petra Kvitova in the fourth. The 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion won the title at Edgbaston earlier this month in only her second comeback tournament following the horrific knife attack on her in December.

If Konta were to reach the quarter-finals, she could face Simona Halep, the World No.2 and recent French Open runner-up. Elina Svitolina, who has risen to No.5, is a potential semi-final opponent.

Kerber, the World No.1, heads the top half, though the player most likely to emerge is Karolina Pliskova, the World No.3 and a proven performer on grass.

Of the other leading players in the top half, Garbine Muguruza will need to put her poor recent form behind her, while Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska face tricky openers against Timea Babos and Jelena Jankovic respectively.

The draw was kinder to other Britons. Heather Watson faces Belgium's Maryna Zanevska, the World No.117, while Laura Robson will take on Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, the World No.96.

Naomi Broady will play Romania's Irina Camelia-Begu (World No.69) and Katie Boulter faces the World No.59, Christina McHale of the United States.

Belfast Telegraph

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