NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - No.4 seed Johanna Konta faced a stern second round test at the Nature Valley Open, but edged past fellow Brit Heather Watson in straight sets.
Last year’s finalist here, Konta recovered from a break deficit in the second set to triumph 6-4, 7-6(5) after an hour and 40 minutes.
“Today was a very tough match for both of us,” Konta said. “It’s never easy playing your compatriot - there’s always a little bit more nerves, and the conditions didn’t make it easy out there.
“I’m just glad that I was able to keep my focus on my side of the net, just focus on what I wanted to do out there and how I wanted to play. I managed to do that quite consistently throughout the match.”
Before the match, Konta admitted she was expecting a battle from her Fed Cup teammate, especially since Watson thrives on British soil.
“I know Heather plays well on this surface, she enjoys playing on this surface and loves to play in front of a home crowd,” Konta told press after her first-round win.
“It’ll be a really great match, and I’m looking forward to a tough challenge like that. It’ll be a really positive thing for me to compete through.”
Konta got ahead to an early break at 3-2, but faced resistance at every turn from Watson, who immediately created two opportunities to break back in the next game. But Konta’s measured aggression off the forehand wing kept Watson from converting, and the No.4 seed held her lead to grab the opening set.
Watson finally broke through early in the second, holding to love and backing it up with a break at 3-1. But a meek service game gave Konta a chance to break back few games later at 4-3 to level the score. They pair stayed deadlocked into the tiebreak, where Konta finally edged ahead to close out the match in straight sets.
Up next, Konta will face Dalila Jakupovic in the Nottingham quarterfinals. It’ll be the pair’s first meeting.
“I’m happy with how I’ve been playing and competing in my matches, especially today,” Konta said. “I think I can take a lot of good things from that and just try to build on that in my next match.
“I’m here to compete and I hope to make it to Sunday, but I’m really just taking it one match at a time.”