NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Last year’s finalist Johanna Konta made a winning start at the Nature Valley Open, easing past Kurumi Nara in two sets.
Britain’s top-ranked player Konta returns to Nottingham as the tournament’s No.4 seed, but ranked outside the Top 20 after failing to defend her Miami title and posting a quiet clay court season.
Playing at home in front of the supportive Nottingham crowd, Konta employed her signature controlled aggression to break Nara twice in two sets, easing to a 6-2, 6-3 victory in just over an hour.
“I’m definitely really pleased that I won my first match on grass,” Konta told press afterwards. “I really wanted to make sure that I competed during every single point, regardless of how I played level-wise. I wanted to make sure I was competitive from the first to the last ball, and I think that’s what I did.
“I feel good where I am, and I think it’s important that I don’t compare to last year. I’m enjoying the challenges that I’m facing and I’m looking forward to try to make it to the end of each tournament that I play.”
Up next, Konta will take on fellow Brit Heather Watson, who defeated American qualifier Danielle Lao in straight sets earlier in the day, 6-1, 6-3.
“There are no easy matches regardless of who you play or what number they have next to their name,” Konta said. “I know Heather plays well on this surface, she enjoys playing on this surface and loves to play in front of a home crowd.
“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.”