In a rematch of last year’s Nottingham final, Johanna Konta is back into the championship match at the Nature Valley Open after a straight sets win over Donna Vekic.
Stephanie Livaudais
June 16, 2018

NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Britain’s top-ranked player Johanna Konta is through to her first final of 2018 after triumphing in a rain-addled semifinal rematch with Donna Vekic.

In a rematch of last year’s final - which saw Vekic lift her first trophy since 2014 in a three-set comeback thriller - Konta completed her revenge to defeat Croatian 6-2, 6-3, and she has yet to drop a set this week.

Read more: Konta, Vekic set up Nottingham rematch in semifinals

“The match had a bit of everything, and it made for a very challenging match for a number of different reasons,” Konta told press afterwards. “But that’s all a part of the sport, it was just about dealing with it as best as I can and just keep the attention on work at hand.”

The No.4 seeded Konta made blistering start to the match, earning early break to start off the first game on the front foot. Vekic did her best to keep pace with the Brit, but she wasn’t able to make any inroads on the Konta serve, eventually surrendering another break at 5-2.

After dropping the first set, Vekic took a medical time out for treatment on her lower back - and then suddenly the rain that had been forecast put a halt to play for over an hour.

Konta kept a cool head upon resumption, racing out of the gates to grab a 2-1 lead, and then shook off a pair of Vekic break chances to consolidate. The Croatian finally got her breakthrough in the next game, going on to level the match at 3-3.

But a lackluster service game punctuated by a double fault gave the lead right back to Konta as Vekic’s frustration mounted. Konta reeled off the last three games in a row to close out the match after an hour and 17 minutes on court, claiming her spot back into the Nottingham final.

“I think overall I’m happy that I’m able to play so many matches consecutively, and most importantly I think I’m building on each match that I’m playing,” Konta said.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play another final, I’m going to work hard to just do the best that I can and enjoy that.”

Top seed Ashleigh Barty awaits as Konta seeks to not only lift her first trophy of 2018, but also add her name to another piece of British tennis history in the process - the last British player to win a WTA singles title at home was Sue Barker in Brighton, on carpet in 1981, while the last British player to win a singles title at home on grass was Virginia Wade in Eastbourne in 1975.

“Barty is a very talented, very crafty player,” Konta said. “She loves this surface and she’s very vocal about it. I’m sure she’s going to be playing her best tennis, she’s improved a lot and is playing very well since she’s come back. That’s a great challenge for me, to play someone who’s so in form. I’ll do my best to just battle hard.”