AEGON International: Konta thrills home crowd and sets up Kvitova clash

Johanna Konta on her way to victory against Leisa Tsurenko - picture Edward Thomas
Johanna Konta on her way to victory against Leisa Tsurenko - picture Edward Thomas

Eastbourne’s Johanna Konta set up a mouthwatering tie with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova after a straight sets victory against Leisa Tsurenko.

Konta was made to battle hard in the first set, which she eventually wrapped up 7-6 (7-4) in a tie break after one hour and nine minutes. Tsurenko’s resistance was broken and Konta powered through the second set 6-1 much to the delight of her home supporters on a packed centre court.

The British No.1 faces the daunting task of facing Kvitova (tomorrow Wednesday) who came through a tough match against Timea Babos 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) earlier in the day.

Konta, 24, is the only British player remaining after Tara Moore, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady were all beaten on Monday.

Konta said, “It was a helluva long first set that was sure. We played a lot of tennis that was for sure but the more time I can get on grass, the better so I really enjoyed being out there. So many people were out there and the noise they made was incredible it was a great experience. It was a pleasure being out there.”

Of facing Kvitova, Konta added, “She plays incredibly well on grass. She’s a two time Wimbledon champion, so her results speak for themselves.I will have a chat with my coach later about the match but I am really looking forward to it.”

The buzz around Devonshire Park reached fever pitch as Konta, who lives on Sovereign Harbour, took to centre court as she faced Lesia Tsurenko, a Ukrainian who defeated Shuai Zhang earlier today.

Everyone was in expectant mood but after the first set, that mood changed as Tsurenko proved a tough nut to crack.

From the get go, Tsurenko soon showed Konta that she wasn’t going to have things all her own way in her home town event. Her intricate shots also had Konta covering more ground than At times Konta’s service was a bit tetchy and her backhand let her down on a few occasions.

When the first set entered the business end a tremendous battle of deuce ended with Tsurenko winning what was thought to be a vital point, and ultimately a vital game.

It was a deuce battle which saw both Tsurenko and Konta exchange blows. Tsurenko would pull out a terrific serve, and then Konta would reply with a nice shot of her own.

But for Tsurenko her endeavour paid off as she won what was a mightily tight game, and after defending five break points, Tsurenko finally pipped Konta and held for 6-5.

Konta pulled the first set into a tie-break; and it looked as though the hometown girl had put her first set nerves behind her as she went into a 6-3 lead. But the pattern of the first continued. Tsurenko replied and for a moment centre court held their breath. But Konta did manage to come through and win what was an utterly absorbing set 6-7.

After winning the first,Konta was on a high; at the beginning of the second Tsurenko was refusing to lie down quietly – but Konta managed to get a tricky opening game out of the way and after that it was one-way traffic as Konta settled and began to play the tennis that has seen her rise to 18th in the world and the British no. 1.

Elsewhere Caroline Wozniacki breezed past Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-1 while No.1 seed and world number three Agnieszka Radwańska went through as her opponent Mirjana Lucic-Baroni retired with stomach problems with Radwanska well in control at 6-4, 2-1.

No.4 seed Timea Bacsinszky was knocked out by Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1, 7-5 whileRoberta Vinci also tumbled as she bowed out Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. There was also success for Canadian Eugine Bouchard as she breezed beyond Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-1 on court two.