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Women's Tennis Birmingham Classic the perfect place for Konta to get ready for Wimbledon

JOHANNA KONTA is hoping to carry her superb clay-court form onto the grass as she begins her build-up to Wimbledon.

The British No 1 will play her first tournament since reaching her third grand slam semi-final in Paris at the Birmingham Classic this week.

The wet weather has limited her already-reduced grass-court practice to a couple of sessions since she returned to the court on Wednesday, meaning a first-round clash with Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit will require a fast adaptation.

What Konta does have in abundance is confidence and match toughness thanks to her 15 victories on clay, more than double the tally for the rest of her career combined.

“I’ve been playing at a good level consistently for a period of time,” she said. “It was a nice situation to have to play quite a lot of matches back to back.

“You can only take good things from match fitness and confidence in decision making and in knowing you can come through different situations.

“I feel pretty similar going into this grass-court season except maybe that I just haven’t spent as much time on the surface, but that’s a very good problem to have.

“I always look forward to the grass because I get to be at home. I just drove up this morning, which is nice. Not many players get to experience that in a season, just pop to your tournament.”

Konta’s exceptional run in Paris prompted her to pull out of the grass-court event in Nottingham, where she had reached the final for the past two years.

Birmingham has been the exception on a surface where Konta has generally been very successful — capped, of course, by her run to the semi-finals of Wimbledon two years ago.

The 28-year-old has never made it past the second round in six previous appearances at the Edgbaston Priory Club, but is hoping to change that this time.

Konta, seeded seventh, said: “I’ve played Nottingham every year so it’s a different situation, it’s a different dynamic. This will be my first grass-court tournament and I’m just looking forward to getting started really.

“Last year I lost to Petra [Kvitova], the year before Coco [Vandeweghe], so I’ve played some very capable players, especially on this surface. I wouldn’t say it’s anything specifically to do with Birmingham or the tournament. It’s always a lot to do with the opponents that you play.

“There’s no reason why this year I can’t do better. It might not happen but I’ll be working towards hopefully making it happen.”

Konta is one of three British players in what is an exceptionally strong draw. Heather Watson and Harriet Dart were both awarded wild cards, and Dart will also be playing doubles with Venus Williams.


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