Johanna Konta has an opportunity to break into the world’s top 20 if she can make an impact at the French Open.
Konta and fellow Brit Laura Robson have been handed German opponents in the 1st Round of the French Open. But the pair face a tough task on the red clay at Roland Garros with Eastbourne-based Konta taking on Julia Goerges and Robson facing Andreas Petkovic.
Konta, the British #1, battled her way to the semi-finals at the season’s opening Grand Slam – the Australian Open – that included a stunning success against USA veteran Venus Williams in the opening round.
She will be focused on the clay court finale, but whether Konta can survive the first week in Paris remains to be seen as she has yet to make much of an impact at the French Open. Yet she has risen from obscurity to world #22 in less than a year, and is expected to continue her climb up the world’s rankings.
While Konta is expected to reel off a straightforward victory over Goerges, ex-British #1 Robson is anticipated to face a knock-out blow from Petkovic so retreat before embracing the grass court season. It was on the grass courts at Devonshire for the 2015 Aegon International that everything altered for the pair – but at different ends of the spectrum.
Robson made a brief appearance at Eastbourne, annihilated in the 1st Round of Qualifying by Australian Daria Gavrilova on her comeback trail.
Critics and former players were left dismantling Robson’s game and tactics after the one-sided contest, which after her exit from Devonshire sent her on to Wimbledon lacking confidence.
Sure enough Robson, who finished Olympic Mixed Doubles runner-up with Scotland’s Andy Murray at the 2012 London Games held at Wimbledon, produced another dismal display so competed on the ITF Tour.
Heather Watson, coached by Murray’s mother Judy at the Australian Open, has progressed to the French Open 2nd Round in four of the past five years.
And Murray has taken ex-British #1 Watson under her wing and declared:
“I set her a target of top 30 by the end of the year … she’s becoming much more aggressive, more adventurous by adding things to her game – like the drop shot and little slices that give her variety.”
Watson should win her opening match, drawn to play little known American Nicole Gibbs.
Naomi Broady, who completes the British representatives in the Women’s draw of the major, also has an American opponent in Paris. Coco Vandeweghe, who has competed at Eastbourne in the past, is not an easy draw for Broady who has experienced mixed success this term.
French Open 1st Round matches involving British ladies
Johanna Konta (GB) v Julia Goerges (Ger)
Heather Watson (GB) v Nicole Gibbs (USA)
Laura Robson (GB) v Andrea Petkovic (Ger)
Naomi Broady (GB) v Coco Vandeweghe (USA)