Johanna Konta vs. Donna Vekic, Nottingham SF Preview

Nature Valley Open, Nottingham SF Preview
🇬🇧 (4) Johanna Konta vs. 🇭🇷 (6) Donna Vekic

Johanna Konta and Donna Vekic will renew hostilities when they meet in Saturday’s second semi-final at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham. Konta and Vekic established an intriguing rivalry during the grass court swing last year. It all started in Nottingham where Vekic upset Konta to win the title 12 months ago, Konta will be keen for revenge here and heads into this match in great form.

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Johanna Konta has breezed into her first semi-final of the year. The Brit has not dropped a set on route to the final 4, Konta has claimed wins over Kurumi Nara, Heather Watson and Dalila Jakupovic. Konta certainly has a great game for this surface, the 27-year-old possess one of the best serves on tour which sets her up for success on the grass.

Donna Vekic has done well to reach the semi-finals in Nottingham in her quest to defend her title. Vekic started the week with a nervy performances, requiring a third set tiebreak to defeat Gabriella Taylor. The Croatian has been more impressive in her last couple of matches as she defeated Vera Lapko and Mona Barthel in straight sets to reach her first semi-final of the year.

Konta holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Vekic. The pair played two epic matches on grass last year. Vekic defeated Konta 2-6 7-6 7-5 in the Nottingham final before Konta won an even more dramatic match at Wimbledon a few weeks later, a 7-6 4-6 10-8 victory.

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Naomi Osaka, Nottingham SF Preview

Nature Valley Open, Nottingham SF Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka

Two of the tour’s most promising young talents will go head-to-head in Saturday’s first semi-final in Nottingham when Ashleigh Barty comes up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka. Barty and Osaka are two of the youngest players ranked inside the top 20, this is certainly a match-up that we will be seeing a lot more of in the future. The head-to-head record between the two is split at a win apiece, who will move ahead and book their spot in the final?

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Ash Barty has rocketed in to the final 4 in Nottingham without dropping a set. Barty has made the most of a favourable draw, claiming comfortable wins over Stefanie Voegele, Ying-Ying Duan and Katie Boulter. This feels like an important couple of matches coming up for Barty in Nottingham. The Aussie has only won the 1 WTA title, it is important for her belief to start adding to her collection, the top seed has the perfect opportunity to do just that in Nottingham.

Naomi Osaka has recovered from a slow start to the event to reach a maiden semi-final on a grass court. Osaka needed 3 sets to get passed Sachia Vickery in the opening round before comfortably defeating Denisa Allertova and Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets.

The head-to-head record between the pair sits at 1 win apiece. The most recent match between the two took place earlier this year at the Australian Open, Osaka handily defeated Barty 6-4 6-2 in what was a near-flawless performance by Osaka. A very different result seems likely in Nottingham.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu, Nottingham QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham QF Preview
🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇷🇴 (5) Mihaela Buzarnescu

The pick of the quarter-finals match-ups at the Nature Valley Open on Friday sees the third seeded Naomi Osaka take on the fifth seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu. This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Buzarnescu, an interesting match-up because of the contrast in styles between the pair. This will also be the first grass court quarter-final either of these two have competed in, who will book their spot in the semi-finals?

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Naomi Osaka got her Nottingham campaign off to a slow start as she came from a set down to defeat Sachia Vickery, a 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory. Osaka produced a more assured performance in the second round as she easily disposed of Denisa Allertova to claim a 6-3 6-2 win. Osaka’s consistency and adaptability have improved significantly allowing her to perform well on all surfaces in 2018.

Mihaela Buzarnescu continues to achieve new milestones. Entering the tournament at a career high ranking inside the to 30, the Romanian has been typically gutsy on route to the quarter-finals in Nottingham. Buzarnescu started the event with a 6-2 3-6 7-6 win over Veronica Cepede Royg before battling past Irina Falconi 6-3 5-7 6-3. Buzarnescu did well to recover from disappointment in the second set on both occasions, in the past she would have faded away in the third set.

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Johanna Konta vs. Dalila Jakupovic, Nottingham QF Preview

Nature Valley Open, Nottingham QF Preview
🇬🇧 (4) Johanna Konta vs. 🇸🇮 Dalila Jakupovic

Johanna Konta continues her quest for the Nottingham title on Friday with a quarter-final showdown with Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic. This will be the first career meeting between Konta and Jakupovic, the pair both bring good form into this match having won their first few matches this week in straight sets. Nevertheless, this is a big mismatch on paper, Konta will enter this match as an overwhelming favourite.

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Johanna Konta is into just her second quarter-final of 2018. It has been a mostly disappointing season for Konta but she will be hoping to turn her fortunes around on the grass in front of her home fans. Konta reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, there is no doubt that grass can be a very dangerous surface for the Brit. Konta started her Nottingham campaign with a 6-2 6-3 win over Kurumi Nara before surviving a tough test as she beat compatriot Heather Watson 6-4 7-5. Given the state of the draw, Konta is to be considered one of the main contenders to win the title from here, if she were to capture the title it would be a much needed confidence booster heading into the bigger grass court events.

Dalila Jakupovic is also into her second quarter-final of 2018, her first career quarter-final on a grass court. Jakupovic started her Nottingham campaign with a 7-6 6-2 upset victory over the 8th seeded Camila Giorgi before defeating Poland’s Magdalena Frech 6-4 6-3.

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Ying-Ying Duan, Nottingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇨🇳 Ying-Ying Duan

Ash Barty continues her Nottingham campaign on Thursday with a second round clash against China’s Ying-Yong Duan. This will be the first career meeting between Barty and Duan, a mismatch on paper, Barty will enter this match as a strong favourite and rightfully so.

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Barty produced a fairly clinical opening round performance at the Nature Valley Open. The Aussie number 1 comfortably defeated Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-3. Barty’s strengths were on show, most notably the Aussie’s very strong serve. Barty saved all 3 break points she faced and only dropped the 4 points on serve throughout the entire match. Barty’s grass court prowess is clear, she will be very hard to stop this week. In Nottingham.

Duan also produced a strong serving performance in her opening round match in Nottingham. Duan claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh. Duan served 8 aces and won 76 percent of points behind her first serve in what was a good start to the grass court season for Duan.

It will be interesting to see if the big hitting Duan can catch form and cause Barty some problems.

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Johanna Konta vs. Heather Watson, Nottingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview
🇬🇧 (4) Johanna Konta vs. 🇬🇧 Heather Watson

Britain’s number 1 and number 2 will go head-to-head when Johanna Konta takes on Heather Watson at the second round stage in Nottingham on Thursday. Konta and Watson both play some of their best tennis on grass, both claimed comfortable opening round wins and will head into this match full of confidence. Can Watson secure her first win over Konta?

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Konta and Watson both powered through their opening round matches on Tuesday at the Nature Valley Open. Konta defeated Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-3 whilst Watson defeated Danielle Lao 6-1 6-3. The eyes of the British public turn to the grass court swing at this time of the year, Konta and Watson have both thrived in this situation in the past and will be hoping to do so again as both have had disappointing seasons thus far.

It was Konta who won the only previously completed match between the pair, a fairly comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory at Indian Wells last year.

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Dalila Jakupovic vs. Magdalena Frech, Nottingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview
🇸🇮 Dalila Jakupovic vs. 🇵🇱 Magdalena Frech

Dalila Jakupovic and Magdalena Frech will go head-to-head in an interesting second round encounter in Nottingham. Jakupovic and Frech both claimed upset victories in their opening round matches, both have steadily climbed up the rankings in recent times and will both see this as a great opportunity to reach a rare quarter-final at the WTA Tour level.

Dalila Jakupovic caused the first big upset of the grass swing as she eliminated the 8th seeded Camila Giorgi on Monday, a 7-6 6-2 victory. Jakupovic wasted several leads in the opening set but was steady enough to eventually get over the line in a tiebreak before running away with the match.

Magdalena Frech secured her spot in the second round in Nottingham with a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win over Saisai Zheng in what was her first tour level victory on a grass court. Frech entered this event at a career high ranking is certainly playing the best tennis of her career in recent times, a player on the rise.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair, a huge opportunity for both, who will take it?

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Naomi Osaka vs. Denisa Allertova, Nottingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview
🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇿 Denisa Allertova

The third seeded Naomi Osaka will face a real test in her second round match in Nottingham when she takes on Denisa Allertova. Osaka will need to be wary heading into this match, Allertova has a powerful game that is well suited to the grass, expect Allertova to really change Osaka.

Osaka got off to a slow start in her opening round match in Nottingham. The rising star was forced to come from a set down on route to a 3-6 6-1 6-2 win over Sachia Vickery. In theory Osaka has the type of explosive game that can be very dangerous on this surface, however she does have little experience on grass and was understandably rusty in her opening round match on Monday. It will be interesting to see if her level picks up in the second round.

Denisa Allertova stormed through her opening round match in Nottingham, a dominant 6-3 6-1 win over Kristie Ahn. Allertova also has little experience on grass so it was encouraging for her to have such a positive opening round performance in Nottingham.

The only previous match between the pair was a close one, Osaka claimed a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 7-5 victory at the U.S Open last year. That result will give Allertova encouragement that she can cause an upset here.

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Johanna Konta vs. Kurumi Nara, Nottingham R1 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R1 Preview
🇬🇧 (4) Johanna Konta vs. 🇯🇵 Kurumi Nara

Johanna Konta begins her Nottingham campaign with an opening round clash against Japan’s Kurumi Nara. This is Konta’s time to shine, after a mediocre start to the season the Britt will be hoping she can capture the form that saw her reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year over the next month and push back up towards to the top 10.

Johanna Konta of Great Britain in action during her first-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Konta made it to the final in Nottingham last year where she was upset by Donna Vekic in the final, Konta will be keen to go a step further in 2018. Konta has an exceptional record on grass over the last few seasons, a 25-11 win/loss record on grass over the last 3 seasons. Expect Konta to be one of the main title contenders in Nottingham.

Kurumi Nara avoided the clay court swing and has spent the majority of her time at the ITF level in recent months. It will be interesting to see what Nara can achieve as the tour moves to more advantageous surfaces for her over the next few months.

This has been a very successful match-up for Konta. The Britt holds a 6-1 head-to-head record over Nara. The most recent match between the pair took place earlier this year in a Fed Cup tie, Konta won comfortably in straight sets.

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Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Veronica Cepede Royg, Nottingham R1 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R1 Preview
🇷🇴 (5) Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. 🇵🇾 Veronica Cepede Royg

The fifth seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu comes up against Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg, an interesting opening round clash at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham. Heading into the grass court season there will be little expectations for both Buzarnescu and Cepede Royg, two players that typically play their best tennis on a clay court.

Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania in action during her fourth-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Mihaela Buzarnescu continues to reach new heights. The Romanian caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament at Roland Garros where she eliminated tournament favourite Elina Svitolina at the third round stage. Buzarnescu also made it to the quarter-finals in the doubles draw so she arrives in Nottingham full of confidence with a career high singles ranking inside the top 30.

Conversely, Veronica Cepede Royg’s ranking has plummeted to well outside the top 100 after an opening round exit at Roland Garros, failing to defend her round of 16 points from the previous year despite a gallant 3 set loss to Petra Kvitova. It will be important for Cepede Royg to pick up as many points as she can during the grass swing or she risks losing direct entry to the biggest events later in the year.

This will be the first career meeting between Buzarnescu and Cepede Royg, it will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out on a grass court.

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