Konta falls at first hurdle to dash British hopes

NEW YORK • New York may be the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but not so for Britain's No. 1 players this year. Forty-eight hours after Andy Murray withdrew from the US Open, Johanna Konta crashed out of the tournament at the first hurdle on Monday.

There had been great expectations of her here. Playing on her favoured hard courts at Flushing Meadows, she was one of eight players with a chance of becoming the world No. 1 come the end of the fortnight.

She capitulated, though, in the face of some fierce hitting from Aleksandra Krunic, the world No. 78 from Serbia, in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat.

Konta's run to the semi-finals last month at Wimbledon, where she became the first British woman to reach the last four since Virginia Wade in 1978, was one of her finest achievements, but the 26-year-old has struggled to back it up in North America, winning only two of five matches since then.

She insists there has not been any lingering emotional letdown.

"It's definitely not an easy loss to take," Konta said. "I would have liked to have been involved here for much longer.

"I don't take anything for granted. I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in the second week.

"How I did at Wimbledon is not something I bring into every match I play. The tennis season moves on quickly. I had an incredible Wimbledon experience, but I have moved on since then."

The seventh seed had cruised to a 4-1 lead with a double break in the early stages, but Krunic showed that she was no walkover by levelling at 4-4.

Although Konta managed to close out the first set, her performance went rapidly downhill from there and Krunic took advantage.

The Briton looked uncertain during the deciding set. She struggled to win any free points on her serve, making just 45 per cent of her first serves.

The match came to an end with Konta's 42nd unforced error, a backhand that landed wide of the court.

Having missed out on the ranking points on offer here, she has much work to do during the forthcoming Asian swing if she wants to qualify as one of the top eight for the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore in October.

"I don't think I necessarily played my best tennis today, but my opponent also had something to say about that," Konta said.

"She moved incredibly well. She made it very tough for me to be able to get any easier points. Overall, I think her level of tennis was just better today."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'Konta falls at first hurdle to dash British hopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe