STUTTGART, Germany - No.6 seed Johanna Konta scored her first-ever win at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Wednesday, defeating Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka in three sets, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1.
The Brit, who had lost in the first round in her only two appearances at the tournament, rallied from a break down in the first set and ran off the last five games en route to the victory in one hour, 58 minutes.
"I think I did a reasonably good job the whole match," Konta assessed. "I don’t think I played my best level but I think I adapted as quickly and as best possible compared how much time I had here and also the clay court player she is, she doesn’t give you much rhythm. So, I think that I dealt with that reasonably well."
Trailing the big-serving Osaka by a break in the fifth game of the first set, Konta conjured up a break at love, and neither player faced a break point for the duration as the set entered a tiebreak.
"I just focused on myself, focused on just trying to get as many points under my belt and really just stick to my game plan," Konta said. "I’m also just happy that I have given myself another chance to play another match on the clay here in Stuttgart trying to stay here for as long as possible."
A costly double fault from Osaka midway through the tiebreak handed the advantage to Konta, and though the 19-year-old saved two set points, later saw Konta strike her seventh ace of the opener to wrap it up.
The teenager got her serve firing in the second set, as she landed 82 percent of her first serves and took advantage on Konta's delivery. The Brit landed just 42 percent of first serves in set two, as Osaka won 7/11 points on second serve returns en route to breaking twice and winning the set, 6-3.
After receiving an off-court medical timeout at the close of the first set, Osaka began to run out of steam in the decider. Konta held serve in the opening game after saving a pair of break points, and though the qualifier held serve at love to knot the third 1-1, the Brit proved too strong for the duration and dropped just five points in the final five games.
A wildcard into the draw in Stuttgart, Konta advances to face Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the quarterfinals.
"It will be a different experience playing her on this surface," Konta said of the Latvian. "She’s a good player. She really doesn’t have too many holes in her game either. I think she’s quite solid. I’ll be looking forward to it. It’s another challenge for me on this surface. I’m looking to gain as much experience on the clay as possible this season."
Carla Suárez Navarro and Elena Vesnina were other early winners in the first round, as the Spaniard ended the hopes of German qualifier Tamara Korpatsch, 6-2, 6-4 while Vesnina ousted countrywoman Daria Kasatkina, 7-6(2), 6-2.