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Star power aids Konta in launching US Open bid

Mixed fortunes: Johanna Konta
Mixed fortunes: Johanna Konta

By Andy Sims

Johanna Konta had some A-list backing as she battled into round two of the US Open.

Avengers star Tom Hiddleston, currently starring in Betrayal on Broadway, was in the British No.1's box following a chance meeting in New York.

And after two hours, the end game arrived for Russian Daria Kasatkina as Konta progressed 6-1 4-6 6-2.

Konta will now play another Russian, Margarita Gasparyan.

"We met a few days ago, it turns out he's a big tennis fan so I invited him down and he brought some of his co-stars," revealed Konta.

"We literally just crossed paths, and I did the 'don't bother him, he's busy' thing, and he actually came over and said, 'I'm a massive fan'.

"We got chatting and he's super nice. Will I go to his show? If I get time I'd love to."

Konta roared through the first set in 23 minutes but Kasatkina, a top-10 player not so long ago, hit back as the Brit got frustrated with a couple of umpiring calls.

The 28-year-old was fuming after a Kasatkina forehand was called out only for the umpire to overrule and award the point to the Russian ace.

She reached boiling point moments later when her own forehand was called out and overruled, only for the point to be replayed.

"We differed in opinions," she added. "There was one game where he made two calls, I thought they were the same situation but he called them differently. That was basically it."

Konta regained her composure, though, and secured the crucial break to lead 4-1 in the decider before completing an impressive victory.

"It was what I anticipated it to be," said Konta. "I started well, but she was 10 in the world last year and I've lost to her the last two times we played.

"I enjoyed being out there, I enjoyed the difficulty of it."

Konta is already Britain's sole representative in the women's singles after Harriet Dart bowed out.

Londoner Dart, who came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw for the first time, lost 6-3 6-1 to Romanian Ana Bogdan.

"It was a difficult match and I think she played a pretty perfect match, I couldn't really do much," said Dart. "I'm obviously disappointed with the result but I've got to keep moving forward.

"I played three great matches in qualifying to qualify for the main draw, I deserve my place here so I'm happy about that. Hopefully in the near future I can be in the main draw by my own right."

Dan Evans became the first Brit through in the men's singles after a four-set win over Adrian Mannarino of France.

The British No.2, who reached the third round on his last visit to Flushing Meadows three years ago, triumphed 6-4 6-3 2-6 6-3 in a shade over three hours.

Former World No.1 Ash Barty, meanwhile, survived a huge scare during her opening match of the tournament.

The Australian produced an at times erratic performance during her 1-6 6-3 6-2 win over Zarina Diyas, a 25-year-old Kazakh player currently ranked 80th in the world.

Former top-10 player Kristina Mladenovic of France notched a big win in the first round, upsetting 2016 champion and No.14 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 7-5 0-6 6-4.

Mladenovic, who reached the 2015 US Open quarter-finals, had lost four of her five previous meetings with former World No.1 Kerber, but turned the tables on this occasion to claim victory after two hours and 23 minutes of action.

World No.3 Karolina Pliskova battled into the second round of the US Open in a topsy-turvy straight-set victory over Tereza Martincova.

Pliskova beat her Czech Republic compatriot 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-3) in a match that saw 12 breaks of serve, excluding both tie-breaks.

Belfast Telegraph

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