NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Zheng Saisai had never beaten Johanna Konta in their two previous encounters, but turned around a losing head-to-head to stun the No.2 seed and hometown favorite, 6-4, 7-5, to advance into the quarterfinals of the Aegon Open Nottingham.
Konta last played Zheng in the second round of this year's Australian Open, where she became the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 1983. Now ranked inside the Top 20 for the first time in decades, the Brit eased out to an early 2-0 lead, only to see her Chinese opposition walk away with six of the next eight games, breaking serve twice to take the opening set in 45 minutes.
The second set was an even more hotly contested affair, one in which Konta, who was treated for a right lower back injury, again lead by a break at 4-2 - getting within six points of a decider. Zheng broke back, however, and served out a titanic final game that forced her to face three break points to earn her spot in the last eight in just over two hours.
"I picked up a little niggle during that match, but I felt it was something I could manage," Konta said after the match. "That's why I thought I could finish, but I'll just be looking to take care of it and be ready for the next event.
"I wasn't distributing weight as well as I used to; if you know me well, I usually put more weight on my right side, and I wasn't able to do that today.
"Credit to her; she played a lot of balls and got a lot of balls back. I think there were a lot of high-quality points."
"It's positive just to be moving on in the tournament and have the opportunity to play some more matches," Barty told press after the match. "For me, it's just exciting to be back out playing again.
"It's nice to know that I could still play at this level. It might have been a bit touch and go at the beginning, but it's great to be getting back into it straight off the bat.
"I really enjoyed my 18 months at home and met some really nice people through cricket. I played a season, but nothing forced me back into tennis. I just felt like it was the right time."