NOTTINGHAM, England - Britain's No.1 Johanna Konta edged past Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets to reach her first WTA grass court final at the Aegon Open Nottingham, 6-2, 7-5.
“I’m looking to constantly improve and evolve as a player, regardless of surface,” Konta said in her post-match press conference. “The good thing is that the things that you work on do transfer from surface to surface. I’d like to think I’ve improved in all areas of my game since last year this time, and I’m glad that it’s also coming through on the grass.”
Konta took a few games to get going against the Slovak, who plays much of her best tennis on grass. But she was no match for the Brit’s powerful groundstrokes, and Konta snatched up six games in a row to take the opening set and open the second with a break to the good.
Rybarikova struck back in the next game to put them level at 1-1, and batted away two of Konta’s break opportunities to stay toe-to-toe with her. Konta finally broke through in Rybarikova’s last service game to avoid the tiebreaker and take the match after an hour and forty-one minutes.
“[Rybarikova] is a very effective player on the grass, and she was coming in with a lot of grass court tennis and matches and confidence on the surface. She definitely played like that as well, so I’m happy with how I was able to adjust and get stuck into the match as much as I could. I felt like I competed well.”
With the victory Konta, who won the Miami Open and Apia International Sydney earlier in the year, is through to her third WTA final of 2017 and, in a move that bodes well for her country’s Wimbledon hopes, she’s into her career first grass court final.
Up next she'll take on Donna Vekic for a shot at the title after the Croat upset the No.5 seed Lucie Safarova in a tough three sets.
“I’m very happy to be in my first final of the year,” Vekic told press after the win. “I’ve been playing well all year and I’ve been looking forward to the grass court season, so I’m happy that my first final is on the grass!”
Vekic’s serve was firing on all cylinders during her match against Safarova, striking 16 aces during the two-hour and fifty minute marathon. She was two points away from defeat in the third set tiebreaker, but found another gear to complete the 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4) victory.
“I’ve been working a lot on my serve recently – and I’ve never served 16 aces in a match before! I hope I can serve like that again tomorrow.”