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Konta is finding form ahead of Wimbledon bid


Focused: Johanna Konta powers to victory yesterday
Focused: Johanna Konta powers to victory yesterday

By Eleanor Crooks

Johanna Konta continued her Wimbledon preparations by seeing off Maria Sakkari in the second round of the Nature Valley International at Eastbourne.

French Open semi-finalist Konta needed 97 minutes to triumph in front of her home crowd, running out a 6-4 7-6 (3) winner.

The 28-year-old broke Sakkari's serve to take a 3-2 lead in the opening set before an awkward fall in the second could have threatened her progress.

Sakkari took advantage, the Greek breaking to go within a game of levelling the match.

But Konta regained control and took the second set to a tiebreak, which she would then go on to win.

"There was so little in this match. I felt she was playing better than me for most of that match," Konta said.

"I'm really pleased to have stayed tough and created as many opportunities as possible."

Next up for the World No.19 on the south coast is a third-round clash with Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

A potential quarter-final meeting with fifth seed Elina Svitolina remains on the cards, while the likes of Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep are also still in the running.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber progressed by beating Sam Stosur 6-4 6-4 and plays Rebecca Peterson in the last 16 after the Swede was able to see off Lesia Tsurenko 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat German Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4, but the Dane faces a tougher challenge in the third round, where she will play eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Earlier, France's Alize Cornet knocked out Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina 7-5 6-2 in a match delayed by rain on Monday. She will play Zhang Shuai in the third round after the Chinese player saw off Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-1.

Sixth seed Simona Halep enjoyed a straightforward 6-2 6-0 win against Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei and plays Polona Hercog in the third round, but former US Open champion Sloane Stephens squandered a one-set lead against 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist Jelena Ostapenko to lose 1-6 6-0 6-3. Ostapenko will face World No.52 Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat Belinda Bencic 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-3.

Meanwhile, Samantha Murray and Gabi Taylor advanced into the second round of Wimbledon qualifying but a sextet of home hopes saw their bid to reach the tournament come to an end.

There are 16 places available in the main draw at SW19 for the players who make it through three rounds of qualifying, with Murray and Taylor now two matches away.

Murray saw off Peng Shuai 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-4, while Taylor secured a 7-6 (3) 6-4 win over Chloe Paquet.

But Eden Silva, Emma Raducanu, Naiktha Bains, Naomi Broady, Francesca Jones and Maia Lumsden bowed out.

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