Johanna Konta’s assertion that Roland

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Garros holds no fears for her crumbled again like the clay beneath her feet when Yulia Putintseva put her to the sword in an hour and 24 minutes in the infamous Bullring on a cloyingly warm Sunday afternoon.

A player battling to stay inside the top 100 dumped the British No 1 out of the French Open in the first round 6-4, 6-3, going away. For the fourth year in a row Konta has lost at the earliest stage to an opponent so far removed from her in the rankings – 71 places this time – it should have been a mismatch.Her next challenge was to retain her embedded sense of positivity in the face of the questions she anticipated about this tournament being a recurring hell. She did not disappoint.
Batting away the suggestion that she had lost her way after a solid start, she said: “To be honest, [it] didn’t feel like a great match for me. I never quite found my rhythm.“I never quite found the way I wanted to play. Obviously there’s some of that to do with her. She played quite smart. Otherwise I think I just had a bad match.”
That might have been the end of it had her inquisitors not pressed the obvious button: was this the clay tournament – unlike others, such as Rome Jamie Meder">">Jamie Meder Jersey – where she simply cannot get over the past?“I would like to think that we’re not heading to a self-fulfilling prophecy here,” she replied, still smiling.
“But I don’t think it helps anyone’s preparation if the linger around it is like, ‘Oh, she hasn’t done well there before.’“I have felt success here before, through qualifying and coming through that. Actually, out of my four main-draw matches here this is probably the one I’m most disappointed [with] in terms of the level. This one is a bit harder to take in that way. But I would like to think that I’m still more in control of my tennis and my career than any sort of superstition coming into any tournament.”
But did she not feel the external pressures – the media’s harping on about four straight losses here? “You guys can answer this for me, then. Let’s say for a few years your pieces of writing have just been crap Frank Clark Jersey 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 kind of lingering, ‘Oh, you know what? I want to prove these bastards wrong, but 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 during the many tough moments of another disjointed and disappointing opener Konta surely had nightmare recollections of her first-round exits against the world No88, Denisa Allertova, in 2015, then Julia Goerges (57) in 2016 and Hsieh Su-wei (109) last year. That is a combined ranking of 347 in four years.
Her own ranking of 22 looks unconvincing ahead of Wimbledon, where she left her best tennis a year ago. She will not let herself think so but this might well be curdling into a mental problem as much as anything to do with her tennis, fitness or attitude.“She doesn’t understand how she needs to play to win on clay,” the 2013 Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli, working here for ITV, observed, citing her sometimes reckless aggression. Konta said beforehand she was happy with her form on the surface and felt her preparation had gone well. Evidence to the contrary is mounting – although she admits she does not have a Plan B. Her goal is to Dion Lewis Jersey go in with her best Plan A.


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