Konta and Svitolina to meet in quarter-final
Originally published on 03/01/18 00:00
Johanna Konta has had to work hard for her first two victories at the Brisbane International and the 26-year-old Briton is likely to face an even tougher task in Thursday’s quarter-finals. Konta will take on Elina Svitolina, the world No 6, who has won both of her opening matches in straight sets.
Svitolina, who crushed Croatia’s Ana Konjuh 6-3, 6-1 in just 64 minutes in the second round on Wednesday, won five titles in 2017 and is one of a handful of players who are within touching distance of the world No 1 ranking, which is currently held by Simona Halep.
Konta, who came from a set down here to beat both Madison Keys and Ajla Tomljanovic, lost both her previous meetings with Svitolina. The most recent was in China at the end of 2016, when Svitolina won despite losing the first set.
“It was a tough match,” the 23-year-old Ukrainian recalled. “I was down and then I came back and I won that match. She’s playing well. I think we are both playing differently now and we are much better players.
“Of course I expect a tough match, but I will try to focus on my game. I’ll try to focus on the things I’ve been working on in the off-season.”
After a gruelling campaign in 2017, Svitolina took a two-week break before getting down to work again. She divided her pre-season training between Paris, where her coach, Thierry Ascione, is based, and London.
Konta also trained in London last month, though she had a chance to get used to warmer conditions when she played two exhibition matches in Thailand en route to Australia.
Having lost her last five matches in 2017, Konta has been pleased to get back into a winning habit this week.
“There’s still some work to be done in this period of the year because, obviously I didn’t have too many wins under my belt at the end of last year,” Konta said. “I’m definitely working on accumulating that match fitness again.
“To have these two three-set matches is a really good thing for me because both matches were full of all sorts of difficult situations and parts in the match where I really had to be really tough out there physically or mentally – or both.”