INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Johanna Konta kicked off the BNP Paribas Open with a solid 6-2, 6-3 win over Pauline Parmentier, taking one hour and 29 minutes to book her spot in the second round.
Unseeded at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since her 2016 debut, the Briton extended her career record against Parmentier to 4-1, having now won their past three encounters in straight sets.
An evenly contested start saw each player hold twice for 2-2, though it was Konta who has to save two early break points in the third game as she struggled to find the range on her forehand.
The former World No.4's backhand, though, was in fine fettle, and she slammed two brilliant winners down the line off that wing to hold that game. It would come to the fore again two games later: finding herself at deuce on her serve once again, Konta objected to the umpire's ruling to replay the point after an erroneous line call.
But the 27-year-old channeled her frustrations in the correct way, winning the replayed point with another backhand down the line - and from there, striking the ball with greater aggression and purpose, reeling off four games in a row, including 14 of the last 16 points of the set. Highlights included powering through a slice-heavy rally with a backhand winner to break again for 4-2, four consecutive unreturned serves to move up 5-2 and a forehand winner to seal the set.
Having stayed firmly away from the forecourt in the opening set, Parmentier switched things up to immediate positive effect at the start of the second. Two volley winners - one intended, another less so - paved the way to the World No.54's first break of the Konta serve.
A brace of passes from the Frenchwoman enabled her to fend off a break-back point and consolidate for 2-0, but Konta managed to steady her game while continuing to go after her shots, and two forehand winners garnered the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist the break back for 2-2.
Konta would still have to navigate some more danger zones behind her serve, but staved off two break points to hold for 3-2 with a winning dropshot - one of several well-executed touch shots the World No.45 would hit today - and two more to move up 5-2 with another backhand winner down the line.
As Konta went from strength to strength, racking up a tally of 23 winners, Parmentier's game was going awry. With her forehand in particular increasingly prone to some wild shanks, the Istanbul and Québec City champion ultimately committed 21 unforced errors.
Moreover, the 33-year-old was particularly hurt by her poor break point conversion rate. As Konta served for the match, Parmentier held another four - but was again unable to take her chances. Overall, she would win just one out of 11 break points today.
Much of that was to do with Konta's own clutch play, though: in the final game, the Acapulco quarterfinalist saved her best strikes and most accurate serves for the biggest points, and came through five deuces to seal victory on her third match point with another unreturnable delivery down the tee.
Up next for the former World No.4 is a resumption of her rivalry against the wily No.27 seed Hsieh Su-Wei, against whom she has a 3-2 record overall.