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Can Konta Conquer the Clay?


It is fair to say that Johanna Konta is enjoying the best year of her life. This year the British #1 has been triumphant in Sydney and, of course, in Miami. Her famous win in the Miami Open final catapulted her into the world top 10. She has proven herself on hard courts and on grass too, but can she conquer the clay?

Johanna Konta has two careers in theory: pre 2015 US Open and post 2015 US Open. That tournament was her major breakthrough. The Brit managed to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time and scored a win against in-form Garbine Muguruza. That fortnight proved she could perform in slams and at the highest echelons of the game but this was all on hard courts. Throughout her career, the world #8 has recorded twelve top ten wins: a staggering ten on hard courts, one on grass and again just one on clay. Konta has also made four finals on the WTA tour and it is no surprise to anyone that all four of them have been on hard courts. Can she translate this form onto clay just in time?

Mixed clay court season so far for Konta

In 2017, the British #1 holds a 3-4 record on the clay – a poor statistic for a top ten player. She posted a good result in Stuttgart by beating rising star Naomi Osaka in three sets before falling to Anastasija Sevastova. The Brit then lost in the first round of Madrid to clay specialist Laura Siegemund. Konta was able to post one more clay court victory in Rome, defeating fiery young-gun Yulia Putintseva. Her time in Rome was terminated by Venus Williams. This is by no means the ideal preparation that Konta would have wanted but the best players play their best at the Grand Slams.

Her game is just not suited to the dirt. Konta’s biggest weapon is her serve and that is simply neutralised on the slow, high bouncing clay. Her movement is also a weakness in her game and can be easily exploited on this surface. There is hope for Konta though. Just look at Maria Sharapova, the Russian struggled immensely on the clay but managed to find a way to post good results on it. She is now a two-time French Open champion. Her success on the clay has now given her the nickname that is ‘Clay-pova’

Johanna Konta vs. Su-Wei Hsieh

The Miami champion will open play for the day on Phillippe-Chattier Court at 11am local time against Su-Wei Hsieh. The pair have met twice, once on grass at Eastbourne where Hsieh upset the home favourite, and once on the ITF level in Vancouver where Konta got revenge. Both meetings were in 2013 so they hold no real bearings on what their Roland Garros clash may turn out to be.

Johanna Konta has only played two main draws in Paris and both ended in round one despair. Could it be third time lucky for the Brit? Although she has not got the greatest record on the dirt, it is still early days in her ‘new’ career as a top player. We have yet to see the best of the world #8 and she still has plenty of time to adapt to this surface. Will she do it this year and conquer the clay?

Enjoy what you read? Make sure to take a look at our complete 2017 French Open coverage for other great content similar to this.

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