Johanna Konta’s run at the Nottingham Open was halted by Romanian Monica Niculescu in three sets 6-2 2-6 6-2.
The Eastbourne-based Brit, almost 100 world ranking places behind world #61 Niculescu was always chasing shadows overall but hit purple patches on a service that suits her game.
Konta made a dreadful start, losing her serve twice to trail 4-0. She broke serve in a marathon fifth game and held to make it 4-2.
But on Konta’s next service game she was up against it and despite staving off four set points fell behind after 41 minutes.
It proved to be a topsy-turvy second set with Konta speeding into a 2-0 before being pegged back to lead 3-2. But Konta’s fierce shots worked in her favour and she broke Niculescu before serving out the set 6-2.
In the decisive set Konta slipped up on her first serve game to trail 2-0 and at 4-1 the Romanian was within sight of victory. The set lacked the same quality of play as witnessed earlier, no aces and no impressive big shots.
Konta was exhausted serving to stay in the match at 5-2, having fought like a trojan in the previous three games, and failed to win a point to bow out 6-2.