WUHAN, China - Ashleigh Barty made it four losses in a row for British No.1 Johanna Konta in the second round of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.
The No.5 seed came into the second-round matchup on the back of a dismal North American hardcourt summer; though she reached the semifinals at Cincinnati, she fell in her opening match at Toronto and the US Open, as well as last week in Tokyo.
The unseeded Aussie weathered a second set turnaround from Konta - who served for the match in the third set - to complete the victory 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(3) after two hours and 20 minutes.
“It’s one of those things where I’m keen to get more matches in, but I keep coming up against players who’ve got that one more match in them than me,” Konta explained in her post-match press conference.
“But it’s also quite a privilege to be here, I’ve worked very hard to be in this position. I don’t think there’s anything wrong, I just think these new challenges are very important for my development as a player."
She added: “If you look at all the players in the Top 10 - or anywhere in the game - they will go through periods of finding themselves, finding their level and their game again. I guess it’s my time to do that too.”
Konta - whose game relies on a powerful first serve to kickstart points - couldn’t find a first serve in the opening set. Instead, Barty stepped well into the baseline to tee off on the Brit’s weaker second delivery. With Konta looking increasingly frustrated and giving away plenty of unforced errors, Barty didn’t have to do much but stay solid as she took the opening set to love.
But in the second Konta raised her level, cutting her margins down to finally get her name on the scoreboard and hang in the rallies with Barty. She was rewarded with the first break late in the set at 4-3, holding on to turn it around and take the second set.
She carried the momentum to start the third with a break in Barty’s second service game. The Brit’s big serves were firing, keeping Barty out of most of Konta’s service games. But just as Konta thought she was in the clear, serving for a spot in Round 3 at 5-4, Barty finally broke through to level the match. The Aussie pulled away in the tiebreak, grabbing a double break before finally closing out the match with an impressive dropshot return of serve.
The victory is the biggest win of Barty’s career in terms of ranking: a few weeks ago in Cincinnati she defeated No.9-ranked Venus Williams for her first ever Top 10 win. Her defeat of No.7-ranked Konta is a new career-best.
Up next, Barty will face either No.9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Julia Goerges in the third round.