Johanna Konta bowed out of the French Open with a forceful parting shot in sharp contrast to her limp performance on the court.
The British number one has still yet to win a main-draw match at Roland Garros after going down meekly to Yulia Putintseva, the world number 93.
However, when quizzed about her poor Paris record – three straight first-round defeats does not look good for a player of her undoubted class – Konta’s frustration got the better of her.
“You guys can answer this for me, then,” she told the assembled reporters. “If every time you went in to work, let’s say you went into work and let’s say for a few years your pieces of writing have just been crap every time when you come into Roland Garros. Right? Just crap.
“And then your colleagues start to say, ‘you know, you really suck around that time’. And that happens, you know, for a few years.
“How would you guys digest that, and would you feel any sort of kind of lingering kind of, ‘oh, you know what? I want to prove these b******* wrong’, but, you know, it’s just kind of lingering there.
“So it’s not something I would like to buy into, and I don’t think I do. However, you guys don’t make it easy.”
Yet it was a hugely disappointing performance from Konta, who pre-tournament had insisted she has the game to be a success on clay.
An unforced error count of 32 suggested otherwise as Putintseva ran out an ultimately comfortable 6-4 6-3 winner.
The 23-year-old from Kazakhstan joins the similarly unheralded Julia Gorges and, from last year, the then world number 109 Hsieh Su-wei in sending Konta crashing at the first hurdle.
Konta, though, admitted this defeat stung even more than those previous losses.
Putintseva can be a feisty, chuntering player who gets under her opponent’s skin, but she did not need to resort to any such antics to knock Konta out of her stride.
“This is probably the one I’m most disappointed in terms of the level that I played,” she added.
“So, for me, probably this one is a bit harder to take in that way.”
Konta had won the first 10 points on her own serve, albeit while getting little change from Putintseva’s.
But having fended off break points at 3-3 Konta’s serve then failed her twice, crucially to gift Putintseva the first set.
Breaks were shared at the start of the second but that was as good as it got for Konta.
When she failed to put away a routine smash and two shots later saw the ball flash past her for a crucial break at 3-1, she knew her Paris hopes were all but over for another year.
Putintseva duly served out for the match, Konta sending a backhand wide before taking aim at the critics.
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