Konta shrugs off heart scare with devastating show of power to subdue Flipkens
Having suffered heart palpitations on her return to the official match court a fortnight ago, Johanna Konta was in contrastingly serene mood yesterday as she swept aside Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens in barely an hour.
Once the first four games had been shared, Konta reeled off a slew of bruising forehand winners that made Flipkens – a veteran of the tour at 34 – look slow and underpowered.
Konta did not drop another game in her 6-2, 6-0 victory, which sends her through to face the former Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva in the third round of the Western and Southern Open.
Afterwards, Konta said that she had not been fretting too much about the irregular heartbeat that has surfaced twice in the past 2½ months. She explained that her team were thinking about ways to monitor her heart – some athletes have dealt with this awkward situation by having minuscule electrical measuring devices implanted under the skin – before adding that “it probably won’t happen again, knock on wood, for a long time”.
Konta also had a positive report to offer on the long-term tendon problems in her knee. This niggling injury curtailed her 2019 season after the US Open, and had also seemed to inhibit her during the first three months of this year.
“These sorts of tendon issues, they can take years of management and strengthening,” Konta said. “But credit to my fitness trainer Gill [Myburgh], I think we have really turned a corner in the past two months. Right now I have actually had some pain-free days, which is really amazing. Even today it was really good on court, so it’s definitely going in the right direction.”
While Konta – the eighth seed – forged on, Dan Evans, the other British No 1, left the tournament after being brutalised by the mighty Milos Raonic serve. Evans saw 23 aces flash past during his 6-3, 7-5 defeat.
Meanwhile, tournament favourite Serena Williams, seeded third, found herself in a lengthy and lungburning encounter with Arantxa Rus, the Dutchwoman whom she had beaten comfortably in their last meeting at Wimbledon in 2018.
Williams was sluggish, allowing Rus to serve for the win at 6-5 in the third set, but the underdog never quite managed to bring up a match point and, once Williams had broken back, she dominated the deciding tie-break by a 7-0 scoreline.
“I was being aggressive, but she just kept fighting,” Williams said after her 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 victory.
Andy Murray was taken to three sets in his match with Alexander Zverev before winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Bruising winners: Johanna Konta did not drop a game after sharing the first four