EASTBOURNE, Great Britain -- Top-ranked Brit Johanna Konta continued her successful season as she eased into the second round of the Nature Valley International on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over teenage qualifier Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.
No.14 seed Konta, just a few weeks removed from a stirring semifinal showing on the clay courts of Roland Garros, picked up a 74-minute victory over rising star Yastremska, denying the 19-year-old her first-ever grass-court match-win.
World No.18 Konta is making her seventh consecutive appearance at Eastbourne and continues an excellent patch of form at the event. The Brit is tied for the third-most wins here among the players in the main draw, with 11, having reached the semifinals in both 2016 and 2017 (falling to Karolina Pliskova on both occasions) for her best tournament showings.
Konta won 79 percent of points on her first serve and a stellar 76 percent of points on her second serve as she moved to victory without facing a break point. Yastremska, who has won her first three WTA singles titles over the last 12 months, out-winnered Konta by 16 to 11, but the Ukrainian teen was undone by 33 unforced errors.
Konta will next face the winner of the opening-round encounter between Maria Sakkari of Greece and American qualifier Jessica Pegula.
Konta had the first opportunities to pull ahead in the opening set at 2-2. Yastremska saved the first break point of the match via a strong, unreturned serve, but Konta unleashed an incredible backhand lob to queue up a second break point. There, Yastremska slammed a miscue into the net to give Konta a 3-2 lead.
The British No.1 would not have that advantage wrested away from her for the remainder of the set, as Konta consolidated for a 4-2 lead, and then earned a second break for 5-2. Yastremska missed three straight service returns to conclude the opening frame as Konta notched five straight games to take a one-set lead.
At 3-3 in the second set, Yastremska showed off her mettle which has made her one of the most promising teenagers on tour, fending off three break points, the last two with fierce winners, to stay on serve. But Konta was unfazed by the youngster’s grit, and the Brit held on for 4-4 by firing a backhand winner on game point.
In the following game, Konta slammed back-to-back ferocious forehands to garner break point, and she was able to convert for a crucial 5-4 lead after Yastremska sent a backhand wide. Konta took command in the last game with powerful serves to lock up a spot in the second round of Eastbourne for the sixth straight season.
More to follow....