British No.1 Johanna Konta defeated Magdalena Rybarikova in the first-round of the Italian Open earlier today, claiming an emphatic 6-4 6-3 victory. Konta is now set to face either Aryna Sabalenka or Hsieh Su-wei in the second-round of the tournament, and will be hoping to improve on last year’s performance, when she suffered a third-round defeat at the hands of Venus Williams.
Johanna Konta looks to be finally making a case for her chances at the upcoming major events this summer. Having experienced setbacks at Indian Wells, Miami, and Charleston, 2018 was proving to be an immensely difficult season for the current World No.22, yet her recent defeat to Bernarda Pera at the Madrid Open seems to have signalled a turn in fortunes.
Magdalena Rybarikova was also a semi-finalist during Johanna Konta’s miraculous run at Wimbledon last year, and heading into today’s match in superior form to her British contemporary, few saw Rybarikova failing to get to grips with the game.
Indeed, Konta missed 10 break points over her first three return games; however, after being broken in the seventh, Konta would go on to win 12 of the next 13 points, and take control of the match. The Brit would only improve in the second set, breaking Rybarikova in the opening game, and recovering from losing three successive games to steady her nerves and win the match in 1 hour 50 minutes.
The result marked Konta’s second victory over Rybarikova in the space of a week, following her 6-3 7-5 first-round victory in Madrid, and will have certainly given the 26-year-old a much needed confidence boost. Konta was originally set to face off against Madrid Open champion Petra Kvitova, who pulled out of the Italian Open yesterday.