Johanna Konta remains calm despite ending French Open hoodoo

Johanna Konta tasted main-draw victory at the French Open for the first time

Johanna Konta insisted she took no special pleasure in ending her French Open hoodoo by beating Antonia Lottner to reach the second round for the first time in five attempts.

Konta has had a breakthrough clay-court season this year, winning more tour-level matches than in the rest of her career combined, capped by an unexpected run to the final of the Italian Open in Rome last weekend.

That was enough to lift her back among the 32 seeds in Paris and she took advantage of a kind draw by seeing off German qualifier Lottner 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 19 minutes.

“I think it was a bigger deal to you guys than it was to me, to be honest,” she said of her record here.

“But obviously I’m pleased to have come through that match. It’s nice to have won a main-draw match here, but I didn’t really look at it too much like that.

“I think I was just, more than anything, happy to have dealt with the challenges of today. And she was a tricky player to play.”

Lottner, ranked 147, was a significant step down from the players Konta beat in Rome, including Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and Kiki Bertens.

But getting over the line at a tournament that does not hold happy memories was never likely to be entirely straightforward.

The British number one failed to serve out the opening set at 5-3 and Lottner had two chances to level at 5-5 but Konta was determined not to get dragged into a battle and reeled off four points in a row to secure yet another break.

The second set was a much tighter affair, with both players holding serve relatively comfortably until Konta found herself facing three break points at 4-4.

The prospect of a deciding set loomed but Konta’s well of confidence is deep right now and she produced a more decisive play to stave off the threat.

She got her reward when Lottner coughed up two match points in the next game, and Konta showed no hesitation in taking the first to stride through to a very winnable second-round clash with American Lauren Davis on Wednesday.

Konta had talked on Saturday about the trust she has in her game, and she was happy with the way she handled the tough moments.

“There wasn’t much rhythm in the match,” she said. “I think that presents its own type of rhythm and own type of challenge. I was happy that I was able to really stay calm through that.

“And when I found myself in tricky situations or break points down or points where the match could have swung either way, I thought I stayed quite calm. And I think I just trusted myself enough to be able to handle whatever was going to come.”

Konta will be favoured to win her next match, too, against the diminutive Davis, ranked 111, which would probably set up a third-round clash with fourth seed Bertens.

Konta and Davis have played three times before but never at tour level and not since 2013, when Konta won in three tight sets.

“She’s a very good competitor, very good mover, very good opponent to have,” said the 28-year-old.

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