Eastbourne tennis: Johanna Konta and Novak Djokovic light up Devonshire Park
There were no tears this time for British No 1 Johanna Konta as she advanced to the third round of the Aegon International Eastbourne.
Konta was at her best in front of her home crowd and recorded an emphatic 6-2 6-2 win against world No 67 Sorana Cirstea.
In their previous meeting in April, at the ill-tempered Fed Cup match in Romania, Konta broke down in tears on court following abuse from home captain Ilie Nastase. Play was halted that day but Konta went on to win 6-2 6-3, much to the annoyance of Cirstea.
Back on home turf, Konta wrapped up a one-sided contest at Devonshire Park in one-hour-12 minutes and afterwards there was a respectful handshake at the net between the two players.
“I did the best I could to put that incident behind me,” Konta said. “There was no sense of revenge. I played the ball that I had and the opponent I had today not the circumstances that happened in the past. I put it to bed a long time ago.
“Sorana is a very dangerous player. I was really happy with the way I was able to maintain my level. Playing here is pretty special to me, I feel at home.”
Konta, the world No.7, will face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko today (Thursday) in the third round. “She’s coming off winning her first slam,” said the British No 1. “I’m looking forward to playing her and an opportunity to play a Grand Slam champion in good form. I’m excited to share the court with her.”
On the men’s side, a relaxed and smiling Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals as he made a winning debut in Eastbourne.
In a match held over from Tuesday, the world No 4 took one-hour and 25 minutes to see off big-serving Canadian Vasek Pospisil in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. Djokovic was upbeat throughout and twice he applauded and joked with world No 75 Pospisil during the match.
Following Djokovic’s struggles at the French Open, how is the 12-time Grand Slam champ enjoying his time on the south coast? “It (the sea air) does wonders,” he said smiling. “I went to Beachy Head and it was incredible, stunning views, beautiful nature.”
The new relaxed, nature-loving Djokovic will be back on centre court today (Thursday) to face American world No. 50 Donald Young who advanced following his straight sets victory against compatriot Jared Donaldson.
World No 1 Angelique Kerber needed three sets to oust Czech Kristyna Pliskova 4-6 6-1 7-5 to reach the third round. Another Czech, Barbora Strycova, upset Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-0 in their second round match.
Simona Halep, ranked second in the world, came back from a set down to beat powerful Chinese qualifier Duan Yingying 3-6 6-3 6-2. Halep also started her third round match yesterday (Wednesday) and was a set down against Tsvetana Pironkova when play was suspended due to rain.
British No 2 Heather Watson is also in action today (Thursday) as she takes on Russian world No 18 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.