Tag Archives: konta

The outer-court Wimbledon experience

Konta Wimbledon 2013

Monday was the second time I’ve ever been to Wimbledon and it turned out to be a far more rewarding experience than the first.

Last year I arrived at 7am to the queue outside the Wimbledon grounds, didn’t bring enough reading material and got badly sunburnt. When finally in at 11:30 I managed to sneak onto one of the side courts and watch a women’s match.

Klara Zakopalova upset 13th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-4 6-1 in my first real-life Wimbledon tennis match. Simply hearing the aggression on court, Cibulkova’s shouting at her own coach (sat just behind me) and the grace of underdog Zakopalova in victory was reward enough for the long queue.

Yet I didn’t really feel connected with the match as I barely knew either player well enough to back them. I was an indifferent admirer and watched simply for the tennis.

This year was different. I managed to secure a seat on number 12 court for Jelana Jankovic against home favourite Johanna Konta. The match was a dead rubber after 16th seed Jankovic pulled away in the first set and although Konta offered resistance in the second there was only going to be one winner.

Jankovic en route to rouns two

Jankovic en route to rouns two

The Serb ran out 6-2 7-5 victor and deserved her passage into the second round. What was interesting, however, was the clear vacant detachment between the fans and the match. I sat there in bewilderment as the crowd sat there watching tennis with no real care who won, despite Konta representing the UK. Of course the crowd cheered louder when Konta won a point but there was never any sense of loss or dejection as Jankovic powered through.

There was as much indifference in the stands as the Cibulkova-Zakopalova clash last year and this is where Wimbledon – and maybe tennis in general – has a problem.

Everyone knows the top players in the WTA and ATP and most fans support one over the rest. The media follow Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic like hawks and their opponents are often discarded as forgettable obstacles in the path of these great players. Even when you’re watching a homegrown talent like Konta it appears no one cares whether she wins or loses.

Maybe that’s why disillusioned fans and pundits criticise the pay rises lower-ranked players now receive to contest the early rounds. It’s not their fault no one watches them – and even when people do there seems to be little care in the stands over the eventual result.

Average fans don’t care about players outside the top ranks, which makes matches on the Wimbledon outer courts such fleeting events so easily forgotten. As it happens, I managed to sneak onto Number One Court and watch Rafael Nadal crash out to Steve Darcis. It was an incredible match and the quality on show far outstretched the previous men’s game I glimpsed on my way round – Matosevic v Rufin.

Darcis v Nadal on Court One

Darcis v Nadal on Court One

I’m sad to admit it but I’ll certainly remember the Nadal clash over Konta’s, and as for Matosevic the only reason I’ll remember him is because he swore at us after netting another forehand.

Tennis needs revamping throughout the hierarchy so that fans genuinely give a damn about the lower seeds in rounds one and two. Only then can the atmosphere of Centre Court and Court One filter into the rest of Wimbledon, which can be a pretty quiet place when ‘big names’ aren’t on show.

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Fed Cup: Great Britain to face Argentina

GB will play on Argentina's clayPhoto: nasha_, flickr

GB will play on Argentina’s clay
Photo: nasha_, flickr

Great Britain’s Fed Cup team must travel to Argentina for their World Group II playoff in April, a tie that could see them finally promoted out of the Euro/Africa Group I.

Coach Judy Murray will lead Heather Watson, Laura Robson, Anne Keothavong and Johanna Konta to South America where they face lower-ranked opposition on clay in Buenos Aires.

They successfully navigated through a group and finals stage to get to this point, defeating Bulgaria in a last tie 2-0. Yet Argentina, who are only one place above Great Britain in the Fed Cup rankings, pose an entirely different threat from those teams faced earlier this February.

For although their singles players don’t rank up to much – Paula Ormaechea their top-ranked player at 195 in the world – the fact the tie will be on clay will greatly favour the Argentines.

They lost 3-2 to Sweden in World Group II this February, falling to a side that beat Great Britain 4-1 in the playoffs last year. The tie was close and Argentina took a two-match lead: Ormaechea beat world number 70 Johanna Larsson in straight sets, while Florencia Molinero (179) took down Sofia Arvidsson (38) in three sets.

The Buenos Aires clay certainly played a part and although Sweden had enough to eventually win the tie 3-2, GB coach Murray will be wary of how tough their playoff tie will be.

Robson on clayPhoto: Dacoucou, flickr

Robson on clay
Photo: Dacoucou, flickr

Watson and Robson are still relatively new to the circuit, as is Konta, and playing in front of a spirited crowd on a surface that favours their opponents will certainly prove testing.

Great Britain should have enough in their arsenal, however, and if it comes down to our doubles team Konta and Robson showed their clinical partnership with a 6-0 6-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovinian opponents this month.

Argentina v Great Britain, World Group II playoff

20-21 April, Buenos Aires

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Britain gets Fed Cup campaign off to winning start

Fed Cup logo

The future Fed Cup Champions, Great Britain, continued their path to greatness this week after successfully navigating through the pool stage of Euro/Africa Group I with a comprehensive 3-0 victory before progressing through to the World Group II playoffs on Sunday.

OK, so touting Heather Watson, Laura Robson and co. as the future champions of this tournament may be a tad optimistic, but there is nevertheless real hope that these girls can restore some much-needed national pride in a tournament we have failed so miserably at over the years.

Having come so close to escaping the Euro/Africa Group I last year – the girls lost to Sweden in a final playoff – Team GB made sure they still mean business, cruising to victories over Bosnia Herzegovina, Portugal and Hungary in the pool, before a 2-0 result over Bulgaria secured a playoff place in April.

Up against Bosnia Herzegovina first on Thursday, Anne Keothavong got the ball rolling with a straight-sets victory in Israel before Watson and the pairing of Robson and Johanna Konta followed suit.

Friday’s clash with Portugal was slightly trickier, Watson lost her singles clash with Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-1 6-4 and appeared troubled by a shoulder injury throughout. It was the same pain that blighted her Australian Open efforts last month and thankfully was able to rely on Robson to see off Portugal 2-1.

Great Britain recorded the same result against Hungary on Saturday, and although Watson recovered from her injury to thump Timea Babos 6-3 6-2, when doubling up with Robson the pair faired poorly, losing 6-4 2-6 6-2 to Babos and Katalin Marosi.

And so into the playoffs, where Robson dispatched of Dia Evitmova 6-0 6-4 before Watson recovered from a terrible first set against Tsvetana Pironkova to win 1-6 6-4 6-2. The Brit lost seven games in a row against the former Wimbledon semi-finalist, but recovered in the second with her first break of serve before two love holds drew the tie level.

She then went on to win the next four games, and although Pironkova broke back Watson had enough in her tank to finish the job.

Fed Cup playoofs

Not bad, eh? Judy Murray’s Team GB are into the next round of the Fed Cup and that’s all that matters at this stage. Both Watson and Robson are still learning their trade on the tour and Konta, still only 21, is another bright hope for the future.

One concern will be Watson’s shoulder injury. The Fed Cup, like it’s Davis Cup brother on the ATP, usually takes second priority under singles ambitions. If Watson feels this shoulder hurt isn’t going away she may pull out of the next round in April to aid her singles chances heading into the summer.

It’s not a nice call to make – and we at Three_Sets are by no means questioning Watson’s commitment – but sadly that is the reality of singles tennis that takes priority over the team game.

With the experience of Keothavong and Murray in the camp though, we are right to expect big things from GB this year and qualifying for the World Group II in 2014 is very much a possibility.

The team will reunite in April hoping to achieve a major landmark in British women’s tennis and make the World Group II – and although it’s too early to back Team GB for ultimate glory there will be real optimism in the camp they can go far over the next few years.

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