Aegon Open 2015: Johanna Konta gives no quarter to keep British hopes alive at Nottingham

Konta beat beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 in Nottingham

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The Independent Online

Laura Robson and Heather Watson are both missing through injury but Johanna Konta is doing a good job of flying the home flag at the Aegon Open in Nottingham. The British No 2 reached the quarter-finals at the Nottingham Tennis Centre yesterday after one of the best wins of her career when she beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Konta had lost the first set to the world No 89 on Wednesday but fought back to level the match before play was called off for the day because of bad light.

When they resumed yesterday it was Konta who continued to hold the upper hand. Both players were broken twice in the deciding set but it was usually 21-year-old Puig, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon on her debut two years ago, who was under the greater pressure.

“It was difficult not being able to finish a match the same day as you started,” Konta said afterwards. “I was feeling a lot of nerves and excitement because you can’t put it to rest when you go to bed. It takes a lot out of you but it’s part of the game and it’s not the first nor the last time it will happen.

“I’m just very happy I was able to pull through that today.”

In today’s quarter-finals Konta will face Romania’s Monica Niculescu, with the winner to face either Agnieszka Radwanska, the top seed, or Lauren Davis in the semi-finals. In the bottom half of the draw Alison Riske takes on Yanina Wickmayer, while Sachia Vickery will meet Ana Konjuh.

Asked about the prospect of meeting Niculescu, Konta said: “Difficult. That’s definitely a word to describe her. I’ve never played her before so I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ll just take it a point at a time and try my best.”

Rafael Nadal began his grass-court season with a victory but was made to work hard before beating Marcos Baghdatis, of Cyprus, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 in the second round of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.

Nadal, who had a first-round bye, dropped to No 10 in the world this week following his quarter-final exit from the French Open and needs a good grass-court campaign to start climbing back up the world rankings.

Baghdatis gave the Spaniard a good workout, keeping him on court for two hours and 40 minutes. Nadal did not start well, dropping his serve early on, but managed to take the opening set into a tie-break, which he won 7-5.

At 4-5 in the second set Nadal saved two set points but Baghdatis won the tie-break 7-4 to take the match into a decider.

Nadal, however, saved his best tennis for the third set, which he won with something to spare.

In today’s quarter-finals he will face Australia’s Bernard Tomic, who beat Tommy Haas 7-6, 6-2. The winner will face Gaël Monfils or Philipp Kohlschreiber. In the other quarter-finals Marin Cilic will take on Mischa Zverev, while Sam Groth will meet Viktor Troicki.

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