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Konta shows more bark than bite in early exit

 

Johanna Konta consoling herself with her dachshund Bono
Johanna Konta consoling herself with her dachshund Bono
Johanna Konta in action at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham where she was knocked out by Jelena Ostapenko

By Eleanor Crooks

A visit from her beloved dachshund Bono helped Johanna Konta recover from the disappointment of another early defeat at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.

Konta has now failed to make it past the second round on seven visits to Edgbaston Priory, this time going down 3-6 4-6 to former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Ostapenko has had a dreadful season but loves playing on grass, and Konta cut a frustrated figure as the Latvian's power game fired throughout.

But the British No.1 was all smiles as she walked into her post-match press conference carrying 10-month-old Bono, who was brought up from their home in London by Konta's boyfriend Jackson Wade.

Asked how she overcomes losses, Konta said: "I just look at my dog. I think anyone who is struggling, just take a look at that face and you probably will do a little better."

This was undoubtedly a disappointing loss for Konta, though, given her superb run to the French Open semi-finals and her strong start made here against Anett Kontaveit on Monday.

Konta praised her opponent, though, saying: "I think whenever she plays at her best level, she is very, very hard to play, and I think she showed that today.

"It felt like any mistake I made had a bigger consequence just because I had so few opportunities in the match and so few windows to build any momentum.

"I still thought I did quite a lot of good things out there, I just didn't get an opportunity to do too much more."

Konta will now head to her home town of Eastbourne ahead of next week's Nature Valley International, where she has a much better record.

"I'd like to think that, come the beginning of Wimbledon, I will be that much more comfortable on the grass in the way I'm playing and moving," she said.

"It's maybe my fifth day on the grass, my second match on the grass. So I can definitely take a lot more good things than not from this."

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty had no problem adjusting quickly to the grass and continued her winning run with a 6-3 6-4 victory over a tough opponent in Donna Vekic.

Venus Williams marked her debut in Birmingham with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The first meeting of identical twins in WTA Tour history ended with an upset as Kristyna Pliskova overcame a ranking gap of more than 100 places to knock out third seed Karolina.

Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic managed to navigate another rain-wrecked day at the Fever-Tree Championships.

Argentinian third seed Del Potro was a 7-5 6-4 winner against Canada's Denis Shapovalov and Wawrinka, seeded seventh, earned a 6-3 6-4 victory over Britain's Dan Evans.

Canadian Raonic also powered through with a 6-3 6-2 win against Italy's Marco Cecchinato.

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas had taken the first set against British hopeful Kyle Edmund before rain delayed the action.

At the Halle Open, Russian third seed Karen Khachanov battled past Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-3 3-6 6-4 in the second round.

Fourth seed Borna Coric of Croatia is also through after a 7-6 (4) 5-7 7-6 (4) win over Portugal's Joao Sousa.

Belgium's David Goffin knocked out Radu Albot of Moldova 4-6 6-4 6-3 and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky 2-6 7-6 (2) 6-4.

Top seed Roger Federer will face wild card Jo-Wilfried Tsonga today.

Belfast Telegraph

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