SAN JOSE, CA, USA -- British No.1 Johanna Konta continued her march through the draw at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Wednesday, dismissing American teenager Sofia Kenin, 6-1, 6-4 to advance into the quarterfinals.
Konta, who won her maiden WTA title at this event when it was held in Stanford back in 2016, took out an American for the second round in a row, following her stunning dismissal of Serena Williams in the previous round. She was equally impressive in her first meeting against Kenin, moving past the rising teen in 70 minutes.
"I kind of approached today as a separate challenge," Konta told the press, after the match. "I just played the challenge of the day and the opponent that I had, and really just tried to do the best that I can with that."
World No.48 Konta, who has been ranked as high as No.4, finished the tilt with 20 winners, including nine aces, to only 13 unforced errors. The gritty Kenin impressed with her defense and deft touch, particularly in the second set, but was undone by 19 unforced errors, and was unable to convert either of her two break points in the match.
Konta will face No.4 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium in the quarterfinals. Mertens moved into the elite eight earlier on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-0 win over American wild card Ashley Kratzer.
"[Mertens is] a great player, she’s been playing very, very well and consistently well this season, and that’s a big task and she’s been doing that so well," said Konta. "So I’m looking forward to playing one of the most in-form players of the year, and really just do my best against her."
"Every tournament that I go into, I want to be there until the very end," Konta stated. "Obviously, being two matches in, I’m giving myself that chance to keep going further. So I think that’s where I’m at, really -- I’m grateful and looking forward to just having another match here, and we’ll be working very hard in that match to give myself another opportunity after that."
Despite the scoreline, the first set was not easy, as Konta had to fight from behind in three of her four service games, including being break point down in two of them. But the Brit was indefatigable in each of those challenging instances, particularly when fighting off the break points with aggressive hitting from the forehand side.
Kenin tried to stay with Konta, but after failing to reach break point in the close first game, the American quickly fell behind, dropping serve at love to cede a 2-0 lead to her opponent. After Konta held for 4-1 with her only easy service game of the set, Kenin lost her serve once more, double faulting while down break point.
Serving for the set at 5-1, Konta fended off Kenin’s second break point of the match before closing out the opening frame with back-to-back aces, putting her ace total at four for the set. Konta had 11 winners to only eight unforced errors in the opener, while Kenin’s 10 unforced errors outpaced her six winners.
The second set was a competitive affair, as Kenin started to win many of the close games she had let slip away in the first set, due to stronger serving and effective dropshots. But Konta still drew first blood, breaking Kenin at love at 2-2 with powerful returning, and claiming the 3-2 lead after a Kenin forehand flew long.
Kenin did not have any trouble in her remaining service games, holding to stay in the match at 3-5 with a winning lob, two straight aces, and a wily backhand dropshot winner. But Konta’s serve was rock solid at this juncture -- the Brit never faced a break point in the second set -- and held comfortably in the final game of the match to clinch another straightforward victory.
More to follow...